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The Pulpit Commentaries The Pulpit Commentaries
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Galatians 6". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ galatians-6.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Galatians 6". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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Brethren, if (or, although) a man be overtaken in a fault (ἀδελφοί ἐὰν καὶ προληφθῇ ἄνθρωπος ἔν τινι παραπτέματι); brethren', if even a man hath been overtaken in some trespass. "Brethren;" the compellation so introduced betokens a somewhat pathetic urgency: el. above, Galatians 3:15; Galatians 4:31; Galatians 5:11. But Philippians 3:13, Philippians 3:17 suffice to show that its occurrence at the beginning of a sentence does not necessarily indicate the commencement of a new section of discourse—to which notion we, perhaps. owe the division of chapters here made. In fact, this paragraph is most closely connected with the preceding; the apostle's object being to point out that not even a moral delinquency into which a brother has fallen should lead us to indulge ourselves in any feeling of superiority in dealing with him, or to vaunt even to our own selves (see Philippians 3:4) our greater consistency. In short, he is enforcing by a strong instance the exhortation in verse 26, "Let us not be vain-glorious." "If even a man hath been overtaken." The apostle supposes the case as one which might very well present itself; the form of expression (ἐὰν, not ει)), however, not pointing to such a case having already occurred. How possible the supposed case was, was plain enough from the enumeration of the "works of the flesh" above given, so many and so multiform. Some critics have embarrassed themselves by supposing that the καὶ ("even") must, Of course, emphasize the first succeeding word προληφθῇ, "hath been overtaken." But it may just as probably be meant to emphasize the whole clause, "a man hath been overtaken in some trespass." This is proved by a number of other instances: thus: Luke 11:8, "if (καὶ) even he will not give them unto him because he is a friend;" 1 Corinthians 7:21. "but if even thou art able to become free;" 2 Corinthians 4:3; 2 Corinthians 11:6. The verb προλαμβάνω occurs besides in the New Testament in Mark 14:8, "she hath come beforehand to anoint ['or, 'she hath anticipated the anointing of "my body;" and 1 Corinthians 11:21, "taketh before other his own supper." A more helpful illustration, however, is furnished by Wis. 17:17, where, speaking of the horrible darkness falling quite suddenly upon the Egyptians, the writer says, "Whether he were husbandman or shepherd or labourer in the field, he was overtaken and endured (προληφθεὶς ἔμενεν) the ill-avoidable necessity;" the πρὸ in the compound verb meaning before he could help himself in any way. So here, προληφθῇ means be surprised, overtaken, before he' is well aware what it really is that he is doing. "Surprised;'' but by whom or what? Not by a person detecting the offender in the very act; as if it were equivalent to καταληφθῇ ἐπαυτοφώρῳ (John 8:4); for the apostle is not at all concerned with the evidence for the delinquency, which is the important consideration in John 8:4, but simply with the fact. Rather, overtaken by the force of temptation; as the verb "taken" is used with "temptation" in 1 Corinthians 10:13; hence the words which follow," lest thou also be tempted." The writer thus commends the delinquent to sympathetic commiseration. But there is no palliation indicated by the word "fault" or "trespass." Not once in the fifteen other passages in the New Testament in which the noun παράπτωμα occurs is there any token of such palliation being intended. The petition, "forgive us our trespasses," is sufficient to exemplify this statement. The trespass may be nothing less than one of the works of the flesh before specified. The preposition ἐν—"in," not "by"—points to the unhappy condition in which the delinquent is supposed to be, out of which it is the business of Christian charity to extricate him. Compare the expressions, "die in your sins;" "dead in trespasses;" and the imagery of a "snare of the devil," in 2 Timothy 2:26. Ye which are spiritual, restore such a one (ὑμεῖς οἱ πνευματικοὶ καταρτίζετε τὸν τοιοῦτον). The apostle intimates that the business of recovering a fallen brother is one which those Christians are not qualified to undertake who, by reason of the strong tincture of the flesh still existing in their moral character, may themselves be justly styled "carnal" not to stand aloof, as if it were not their concern, or as ff the delinquent were to be treated as an enemy or outcast, far less to indulge themselves in taking pleasure in his inconsistency as illustrating their own spirituality, but to come forward to his assistance. Others, who might justly feel less qualified to act in the case themselves, might, however, take from the apostle's direction the hint that at least they should lend their sympathy to the work of their more capable brethren, desire and pray for their erring brother's recovery, and not exult over his fault. The verb καταρτίζειν, "to make a thing fit, even, just that which it properly should be," is used in Matthew 4:21 of repairing nets; 1 Corinthians 1:10 of a Christian community restored to its proper condition of unanimity; 1 Thessalonians 3:10 of making good any lacking of faith. It is used also (Liddel; and Scott) of setting a broken limb. But there is nothing to show that the apostle has any one particular image of disorder in view. The present tense of the imperative seems to mean, "apply yourselves to restore him;" the actual achievement (καταρτίσατε) may not be in their power, In the spirit of meekness (ἐν πνεύματι πρᾳότητος); in a spirit of meekness. We have the same phrase in 1 Corinthians 4:21, "Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of meekness?' The term "spirit" seems as it were to hover between the sense of the Holy Spirit and of that particular condition of our own spirit which is produced by his influence (compare "spirit of adoption," Romans 8:15). But the latter seems here the one more immediately intended. It is not identical, however, with the phrase, "meek spirit," which we have in 1 Peter 3:4. The meekness or tenderness meant is that of one who, humbly conscious of human infirmity in general, his own infirmity included, is prepared to be very considerate and gentle towards the ignorant and those out of the way; loth to use the "rod." Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (σκοπῶν σεαυτόν μὴ καὶ σὺ πειρασθῇς); looking to thine own self, lest thou also be tempted. The change from the plural to the singular makes the warning more impressive and searching. The verb σκοπεῖν in the New Testament always denotes looking intently: sometimes on something to be guarded against, as Luke 11:35 and Romans 16:17; at other times, at something to be aimed at or imitated (2 Corinthians 4:18; Philippians 2:4; Philippians 3:17). The former is meant here. The Christian is to be on his guard against his own weak and corrupt nature; lest he withhold help, or adequate help; lest in helping he get betrayed into the sin of Pharisaic self-righteousness—the sin of harshness, censoriousness. The clause is to be viewed in conjunction with the thought of the unceasing conflict between the flesh and the Spirit mentioned in Romans 5:17. "Tempted," so as to fall (1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Matthew 6:13).
Bear ye one another's burdens (ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη βαστάζετε); carry ye, or, be ready to carry, the heavy loads of one another. The position of ἀλλήλων gives it especial prominence; as it stands here it seems pregnant with the exhortation, look not every man only at his own griefs, but at the griefs also of others" (cf. Philippians 2:4). The word βάρος, weight, points to an excessive weight, such as it is a toil to carry. Matthew 20:12, "who have borne the burden (βαστάσασι το, βάρος) and heat of the day." So in Acts 15:28. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, "weight of glory," the phrase, suggested by the double sense of the Hebrew word kabhod, indicates the enormous greatness of the future glory. The supposition that the apostle was glancing at the burden of Mosaical observances, superseded as a matter for care on our part by the burdens of our brethren, seems far-fetched. These "heavy loads" are those which a man brings upon himself by acts of transgression: such as an uneasy conscience; difficulties in his domestic, social, or Church relations; pecuniary embarrassments; or other. But the precept seems to go beyond the requirements of the particular case of a peccant brother which has suggested it, and to take in all the needs, spiritual or secular, which we are subject to. (For βαστάζειν of carrying a toilsome burden, comp. Matthew 8:17; John 19:17; Acts 15:10.) And so fulfil the law of Christ (καὶ ὅτως ἀναπληρώσατε [or, ἀναπληρώσετε] τὸν νόμον τοῦ Χριστοῦ); and so fulfil (or, ye shall fulfil) the law of Christ. The sense comes to much the same, whether in the Greek we read the future indicative or the aorist imperative. If the imperative be retained, it yet adds no new element of precept to the foregoing; the clause so read prescribes the fulfilment of Christ's law in the particular form of bearing one another's burdens. If we read the future, the clause affirms that in so doing we shall fulfil his law; which in the other case is implied. Many have supposed the word "law" to be here used for a specific commandment; as for example Christ's new commandment that we should love one another, So St. James (it. 8) writes of the "royal law." St. Paul, however, never uses the term in this sense in his own writing, though in the Epistle to the Hebrews (viii. 10; 10:16), the plural "laws" occurs in citation from Jeremiah. It seems better to take it of the whole moral institution of Christ, whether conveyed in distinct precept or in his example and spirit of action. Compare with the present passage the advice which St. Paul gives the "strong" (Romans 15:1-4), that they should bear (βαστάζειν, as here, "carry") the infirmities of the weak, and not wish to please themselves; after Christ's pattern set forth in prophetical Scripture, of old time written in order to instruct us how we should act. It has been often observed that the phrase, "the law of Christ," was selected with allusion to the stir now being made among the Galatians respecting the Law of Moses. "Satisfy ye the requirements of the Law—not of Moses which some are prating about, but the law of Christ, a more perfect law than that other, and more our proper con-corn." Possibly the words τοῦ Χριστοῦ were added as a pointed surprise of style—παρ ὑπόνοιαν, as the scholiasts on Aristophanes are wont to express it—"and thus fulfil the law—of Christ!"
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (εἰ γὰρ δοκεῖ τις εἶναί τι μηδὲν ὤν φρεεναπατᾷ ἑαυτόν [Receptus, ἑαυτὸν φρεναπατᾷ); for if a man is nothing and thinketh himself to be something, he is deceiving his own soul. The conjunction "for" points back to the practical direction just given to the "spiritual;" meaning that for those who wished to be, and also perhaps to be thought to be, fulfilling Christ's law, this was the behaviour which they were to carry out, and without which their claim was mere self-delusion. The phrase, δοκεῖ εἶναί τι μηδὲν ὤν, is well illustrated by the passage cited by critics from Plato's 'Apologia,' p. 41, E: Ἐὰν δοκῶσί τι εἶναι μηδὲν ὄντες ὀνειδίζετε αὐτοῖς … ὅτι,… οἴονταί τι εἶναι ὄντες οὐδενὸς ἄξιοι "Something" is, by a common meiosis, put for "something considerable" (cf. Galatians 2:6). The especial form of eminence, the claim to which is here referred to, is eminence in spirituality and consistency as a servant of Christ. Possibly the apostle has in his eye certain individuals among the Galatians that he had heard of, who, professing much, were, however, self-complacently bitter and contemptuous towards brethren who had gone wrong in moral conduct or who differed from themselves in the disputes then rife in those Churches. The phrase, μηδὲν ὤν, "being nothing," is a part of the hypothesis relative to the individual case spoken of, not a statement putting forth the aphorism that no one is really anything. The passage quoted above from Plato shows, that in the latter case we should have had οὐδὲν and not μηδέν. Some men, by the grace of God, are "something;" but these persons only fancy themselves to be so. Whether any man is really "something" or not is determined by his practical conduct—his "work" as the apostle expresses it in the next verse. The verb φρεναπατᾷν occurs in the New Testament only here, though we have the substantive φρεναπάτης, deceivers, in Titus 1:10. St. James (James 1:26) speaks of a man "deceiving his heart ' in seemingly just the same sense. In both passages it appears to be meant that a man palms off upon his own mind fancies as if they were just apprehensions of real facts; in both also these fancies are but illusive notions of one's own religious character—here, as being "spiritual;" in James, as being "religious" or "devout" (θρῆσκος)—the activity of practical benevolence being in both cases wanting; for "the bridling not his tongue" in verse 26 is proved by the contrasted behaviour spoken of in the next verse to refer to those sins of the tongue which are implicitly condemned in vers. 19-21.
But let every man prove his own work (τὸ δὲ ἔργον ἑαυτοπῦ δοκιμαζέτω ἕκαστος); but his own work let each man bringing to the proof. "His own work;" his own actual conduct. Both "work" and "his own" are weighted with emphasis; "work," as practical behaviour contrasted with professions or self-illusions; "his own," as contrasted with these others with whom one is comparing himself to find matter for self-commendation. "Be bringing to the proof;" that is, testing his actual life by the touchstone of God's law, especially of "Christ's law," with the honest purpose of bringing it into accordance therewith. In other words, "Let each man be endeavouring in a spirit of self-watch-fulness to walk orderly according to the Spirit." This notion of practical self-improving attaches to the verb δοκιμάζω ("prove" or" examine") also in Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 11:28; Ephesians 3:10. And then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone (καὶ τότε εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον τὸ καύχημα ἕξει); and then in regard to himself alone shall he have whereof to glory. The preposition εἰς is used as in Matthew 14:31, Εἰς τί ἐδίστασας; "What didst thou look at that thou didst doubt?" Acts 2:25, "concerning him;" Ephesians 5:32; Romans 4:20; Romans 13:14; Romans 16:19. It depends upon the whole phrase, "shall have his ground of glorying," and not upon the word rendered "ground of glorying" alone. The distinction which ordinarily obtains between verbals of the form of πρᾶγμα and those of the form of πρᾶξις appears to hold good also in respect to καύχημα and καύχησις. Compare the use of καύχησις in 2 Corinthians 7:4 and James 4:16, with that of καύχημα in Romans 4:2, ἔχει καύχημα, "hath whereof to glory;" 1 Corinthians 9:16, οὐκ ἔστι μοι καύχημα, "I have nothing to glory of." In 1 Corinthians 5:6, οὐ καλὸν τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν, the substantive seems to mean "boast," that is, what is said in boasting, as distinguished from καύχησις, the action of uttering a beast. The verb καυχῶμαι, with its derivatives—a favourite term with St. Paul—often appears to mean "rejoicing" rather than" boasting" (cf. Romans 5:2; Hebrews 3:6); but it seems desirable as a rule to render it by "glorying," with the understanding that the writer has frequently the joyous state of feeling more prominently in his view than the utterance of self-gratulation. What the apostle meant by "having one's ground of glorying in regard to one's own self alone," is well illustrated by what he says respecting himself in 2 Corinthians 1:12, "Our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." he had been himself in the habit of testing his conduct and spirit by the standard of Christ's law; and this was the fruit. And not in another (καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἕτερον); and not in regard to that neighbour of his. The article probably points to that neighbour with whom he has been comparing himself; and so, perhaps, also in Romans 2:1. But it may be simply "his neighbour;" "the man who is other than himself;" as it is in 1 Corinthians 6:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:24, in neither of which passages has any particular "other person" been before referred to.
For every man shall bear his own burden (ἕκαστος γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον βαστάσει); for each man shall carry his own pack. A man's business is with his own pack; and all depends upon his carrying that, not putting it down. This "pack" (φορτίον) is the whole of the duties for the discharge of which each man is responsible. It is thus that the image is employed by our Lord (Matthew 11:30), "My yoke is easy, and my pack is light." So also in Matthew 23:4, "For they tie up packs heavy and hard to carry, and lay them upon men's shoulders." The phrase, τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον, "the pack which is individually his own," implies that men's responsibilities vary, each one having such as are peculiar to himself. This "pack" is to be carefully distinguished from the "heavy loads" (βάρη) of Matthew 23:2, Our Christian obligations Christ makes, to them who serve him well, light; but our burdens of remorse, shame, grief, loss, which are of our own wilful procuring, these may be, must needs be, heavy. One part of our "pack" of obligation is to help each other in bearing these "heavy loads;" and we shall find our joy and crown of glorying in doing so; not only in the approval of our own consciences and in the consciousness of Christ's approval, but also in the manifold refreshments of mutual Christian sympathy. On the other hand, our Christian responsibilities, including these of mutual sympathy and succour, we must not attempt to evade. One man is able to do more for others than another man can; the truly "spiritual" man, for example, can do that which others may not even attempt to touch: each one has his own part and duty. And Christ's mot d'ordre to all his workmen, or possibly the apostle means to all his soldiers, is this: "Every man carry his own pack!" The future tense of the verb "shall carry" does not point to some future time, but to the absoluteness of the law for all time; as in Galatians 2:16. The varying turn given to the same general image of carrying burdens in Galatians 2:2 and here is quite in St. Paul's manner. Compare, for example, in 2 Corinthians 3:1-18. the varying turn given to the images of "epistle" and "veil."
Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things (κοινωνείτω δὲ ὁ κατηχούμενος τὸν λόγον τῷ κατηχοῦντι ἐν πᾶσιν ἀγαθοῖς); let him that is receiving instruction in the Word share with him that instructeth in all good things. The Authorized Version appears to have exercised sound discretion in leaving the particle δὲ untranslated. It is, in fact, here merely a conjunction of transition: not in any degree adversative; for the exhortation to liberality towards our teachers is perfectly germane to the preceding topics of carrying one another's loads, and so carrying our own pack. The verb κατηχεῖν, etymologically "to fill with sound," thence signifies "to din a thing into another person's mind with inculcation or constant repetition," in which sense it occurs in Acts 21:21, Acts 21:24, of the persistent repetition of a slanderous report. So early as in Hippocrates (Liddell and Scott) the verbal substantive κατήχησις is used for "instruction;" and the verb, though not occurring in Attic writers, seems to have continued in use in other dialects, to reappear at length in the Common Dialect of Greek. Accordingly, it is found in the sense of "instruct" in Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25; Romans 2:18; 1 Corinthians 14:19. It does not denote instruction by question and answer in particular, but simply the inculcating of knowledge. Recently as the Galatian Churches had been founded, it appears from this passage that there were already persons among them whose particular business it was to give religious instruction to their fellow-Christians; so much their business, that they were on this ground entitled to receive from those they taught liberal help in temporal things. Such persons were doubtless included among the "elders" whom Paul and Barnabas appointed in the several Churches which they planted (Acts 14:23). It is noticeable, further, that the order of men alone singled out as entitled to such secular assistance is characterized as a teaching order; so characterized, per-hops, because teaching religious truth was the most prominent and characteristic of their functions. In his First Epistle to Timothy (1 Timothy 5:17), written, probably, some years later, "the elders who labour in Word and teaching (διδασκαλία)" are particularized as those among the "presiding elders" who are the "most especially" entitled to liberal payment; the form of expression, however, implying that elders whose function lay in other duties than that of teaching were likewise entitled to liberal consideration. The teaching elders would require, more than other Church officers, leisure from worldly avocations for the study of God's Word and his truth, and for the actual discharge of their especial work in private as well as in public (comp. Acts 6:4; Acts 20:20). The direction here given would apply, as to the case of resident teachers, so also to that of persons who travelled about in the dissemination of the faith; as we learn from 1 Corinthians 9:4-14; 2 Corinthians 11:7-12. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:13 the apostle commends to the "high estimation" of the disciples "those who laboured among them, and were ever them in the Lord, and admonished them (κοπιῶντας προΐσταμένους νουθετοῦντας); The expression "the Word" is used without any further qualification to designate the Christian doctrine, as in Mark 2:2; Mark 4:14; Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19; Philippians 1:14. So the Christian religion is styled "the Way" in Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9. "Share;' the verb κοινωνεῖν and its derivatives are frequently used with reference to that kind of "fellowship" or "partnership" which is evinced by our liberally sharing with the object of it in our worldly means. If we "count a minister our partner (κοινενόν)," as St. Paul writes to Philemon (Philemon 1:17), we shall not begrudge him frank and generous help in any direction. Thus Romans 12:13, "Communicating to the necessities of saints," is properly "sharing with them in generous sympathy." So Philippians 4:14, "had fellowship with (συγκοιήσαντες) my affliction" points to liberal temporal assistance. Similarly, generous sympathy embodied in money gifts is styled "communion," or "partnership," in Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Philippians 1:5; Hebrews 13:16; as also κοινωνικός, "ready to communicate," expresses one ready to show such sympathy, in 1 Timothy 6:18. The apostle regards, and would have others regard, such offices of kindness with a fine delicate feeling, not as giving as if from a higher level of condition, but as sharing with brothers, with whom all things are held in common. Chrysostom and others consider the word to point to an interchange or barter of goods, spiritual and temporal, referring to 1 Corinthians 9:11. "In all good things;" in all good things of this life which he himself possesses. "Good things" as in Luke 12:18, Luke 12:19 ("my goods"); Luke 16:25; the preposition "in," as in Matthew 23:1-39. Matthew 23:30, "partakers in the blood of the prophets." The exact import of this clause, which has been variously interpreted, is best appreciated by our taking account of the warmth of indignant feeling with which the apostle is writing. This clearly transpires both from the words, "be not deceived," and from the assurance, "God is not mocked." The apostle had evidently in his eye a certain course of conduct which he indignantly denounces as a "sneering at God." This feeling prompts him to accentuate his exhortation addressed to the cold-hearted, niggardly Christians whom he has in view, by adding this clause, which is in effect, "in every possible way;" namely, by giving them respect and good will as well as maintenance. To no other Church does he address such direct admonition respecting the liberal treatment of its teachers, though, perhaps, indirect admonition may be detected in 1 Corinthians 9:7-11. No doubt the news he had just heard from Galatia made him feel the necessity of dealing with them roundly on this point.
Be not deceived (μὴ πλανᾶσθε). So 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33. Let nothing lead you astray from the conviction, that in the conformity of your real aims and actual practice with the dictates of God's Spirit, and in that alone, can you hope for eternal life. God is not mocked (Θεὸς οὐ μυκτηρίζεται); God is not derided. The verb μυκτηρίζειν, to writhe the nostrils (μυκτῆρας) at one in scorn, to sneer at him, occurs frequently in the Septuagint, rendering different Hebrew words, which denote disdain; as nāatz ("despise"), Proverbs 1:30; bazah ("despise"), Proverbs 15:20; lā'ag, "laugh (in derision)," Psalms 80:6. St. Luke uses it in his Gospel twice (Luke 16:14; Luke 23:1-56. Luke 23:35), where it is rendered "deride," "scoff at." It is, in effect, a "derision" of God when we meet his requirements of real piety and of practical obedience by the presentation of lip-professions and outward shows of religiousness. But the derision will not last long; it cannot hold good, Whatever in our hypocrisy we may pretend, or even after a fashion believe, as to ourselves, the eternal principles of Divine government are sure to work out their accomplishment. Bishop Lightfoot, founding upon the use of the verb μυκτηρίζειν in Greek authors on rhetoric—with whom it denotes a kind of fine irony, in which a feeling of contempt is thinly veiled by a polite show of respect—proposes to apply this sense here; and it would well suit the tenor of the passage; but as employed by so Hellenistic a writer as St. Paul it appears safer to interpret the verb simply In the light thrown upon it by the usage of the Septuagint. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (ὃ γὰρ ἐὰν σπείρῃ ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο καὶ θερίσει). The word σπείρῃ may be either an aorist, as in Ephesians 6:8," whatsoever good thing each one doeth (ποιήσῃ);" or a present. The latter seems to agree better with the ὁ σπείρω of the next verse, and the more pointedly directs attention to one's present immediate behaviour. The reaping-time is either the future life or its starting-point in the" day of the Lord" which determines its future complexion, as in Rom 2:5-16; 2 Corinthians 5:10. The axiom here stated holds good, no doubt, in much that befalls us in the present life, as is forcibly evinced by the late Fred. Robertson's sermon on this text; but this application of it hardly lies in the apostle's present field of view. All human activity is here recited under this image of "sowing," with reference to the consequences which in the day of retribution will infallibly accrue from every part of it. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, however ("He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly," etc.), the idea is applied to pecuniary gifts. Such an application seems to possess a peculiar propriety, founded on the benefits that the giving of money—which, viewed as gold, silver, or copper coins is in itself a dry and useless thing—would be the means of effecting (see vers. 12-15 of the same chapter). But this does not warrant our limiting the application of the word here to the bestowment of money gifts, though this in the context furnishes the occasion for its introduction; the next verse proves the wider application which the apostle's mind is making of it, not, however, losing sight (vers. 9, 10) of this specific reference. "Whatsoever he is sowing, that shall he reap;" the quality of the harvest (its quantity does not seem from the next verse to be particularly thought of, as in 2 Corinthians 9:6) is determined by the quality of the seed sown. In the form of expression, the deed which is done is said to be itself received back—received back, that is, in its corresponding reward or punishment. In a similar manner the apostle expresses himself in Ephesians 6:8, "Whatsoever good thing each man doeth, this shall he receive again (κομιεῖται) from the Lord." So of evil doings in Colossians 3:25, "He that doeth wrong shall receive again the wrong which he did;" and of both good and bad in 2 Corinthians 5:10. These last-cited passages, together with others which will readily occur to the reader, appear to contemplate a reference to be made in the day of judgment to each several action, with an award assigned to each; which view is likewise presented by such utterances of Christ himself as we read in Matthew 10:42; Matthew 25:35, Matthew 25:36, Matthew 25:42, Matthew 25:43. On the other hand, in the passage now before us, the "eternal life," and probably also the "corruption" mentioned in Matthew 25:8, seem to point to the general award, of life or of destruction, which each man shall receive, founded on the review of his whole behaviour (see Revelation 20:12, Revelation 20:15). This is a somewhat different view of the future retribution from the former. Considering such passages in the light of moral exhortation, we are reminded that in each several action we are taking a step towards either a happy or a disastrous end—a step which, if pursued onward in the same direction, will infallibly conduct us to either that happy or that disastrous end. In regard to the relation between the two somewhat differing views of the future retribution above stated, when considered as subjects of speculative inquiry, a few observations may not be out of place here. We need find no difficulty at all in this diversity of representation so far as relates to the good actions of those who shall then be accepted or to the evil actions of those who shall be rejected. But a difficulty does seem to present itself with respect to the evil deeds done, if not before yet after their conversion, by the ultimately accepted, and also with respect to the good deeds done by the ultimately lost. Will the righteous receive the award of their evil deeds? Will the lost receive the award of their good deeds? For there is no righteous man who hath not sinned; as also neither is there an unrighteous man whose life does not show good and laudable actions. A reference to the actual experience of souls in this life suggests, not indeed a complete solution of the difficulty which the nature of the case probably makes impossible to us at devise, but a consideration which helps to lessen our sense of it. It is this in Christians who have a well-grounded consciousness of perfect reconciliation with God, assured to them even by the seal of the Spirit of adoption, this happy consciousness is, however, perfectly compatible with a vivid remembrance of wrong things done in the past. And this remembrance is perpetually suggestive of sentiments of self-loathing—self-loathing the more bitter in proportion as the soul, by its growing purification through the Spirit, is enabled the more truly to estimate the evil character of those evil deeds. This is exemplified by St. Paul's wailing recollection, near the very end of his course, of those heinous sins of his, committed long years before, against Christ and his Church (1 Timothy 1:15). Now, we cannot conceive of a continuous existence of the soul apart from a continued remembrance of its past experiences. The redeemed, then, in their perfected state after the resurrection, can never become oblivions of those foul blots in their spiritual history; the recollection of them can never cease at once to abase them in their own consciousness and to glorify the grace which has redeemed them. The Divine Spirit itself will still, we may believe, quicken these remembrances; and the infinite benefactions of God, in that state of felicity experienced, will be still heaping fresh coals of fire upon their heads. Their felicity will be no offspring of blindness or misconception in reference to the past; on the contrary, they will know the truth in respect to their own lives in respect to every part of them, with a clearness unattainable in the present state; but they will know the truth too in respect to the intensity of the Divine love. God's love, it is true, cannot shed the light of approval upon those dark spots of their earthly history; cannot shed upon them those felicitating beams of "Well done, good and faithful servant," which will most assuredly flow down upon the acceptable portions of their conduct; that love itself cannot deal with his servants otherwise than according to truth. But the love of God will be clearly seen, cancelling, for Christ's sake, the penal consequences which but for Christ those several wickednesses would have incurred: in those very instances of sinfulness magnifying in each saved one's consciousness the infinite benignity of his Father, which loved him even then, in those very hours of his extremest ill-deserving. If these speculations appear not unreasonable, then they will serve to explain in what way the sinful doings even of those finally accepted will, however, not fail of receiving their award; the award will be there, both in that sense of loss—loss of Divine commendation, which will necessarily accompany the recollection of them; and also in the sense of their debt of punishment, though cancelled. Be we sure our sin will find us out.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption (ὅτι ὁ σπείρων εἰς τὴν σάρκα ἑαυτοῦ ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς θερίσει φθοράν); for he that soweth unto his own flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption. "Fort" the causal force of the particle ὅτι, properly "because," is here greatly attenuated, being employed to introduce a sentence commending to acceptance the foregoing one, simply by a detailed exposition of particulars illustrating its meaning. This is the case also in 1 Thessalonians 2:14 : 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Ephesians 2:18; Philippians 4:16. In regard to the connection of this first half of the eighth verse with the preceding context, we must take note of the sternly monitory tone which marks Philippians 4:7. This shows that in the sentence, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," the apostle has more immediately in view the terrible harvest to be reaped by those who acted as if they thought that God might be overreached. We may infer from this that this first clause of Philippians 4:8 is mainly the thought which up to here the writer had it on his mind to inculcate—the "corruption" which a man would reap from a life of self-indulgence. But, after completing the statement of this thought, his tone forthwith changes; the frown clearing away from his countenance, he adds, to the threatening admonition of the first clause, the cheering promise of the second, while a more genial tone marks his further remarks on the subject in vers. 9 and 10. The second limb of the verse thus appears introduced in the same way as the second does in Romans 8:13; and in both cases with the conjunction δέ. "Sowing unto his own flesh." Many critics render, "into his own flesh," as if, with a shifting of the image, which is certainly not uncommon with St. Paul, the flesh were now the ground into which the seed is cast. This relation, however, to the verb "sow" (see Alford and Ellicott) is in the New Testament expressed differently, by ἐν, in, or by ἐπί, upon; while εἰς in Matthew 13:22 denotes "among." It is more obvious to take εἰς as "unto," "denoting the immediate object of the action, that to which it tends, that in which it terminates" (Webster and Wilkinson, 'Commentary'). This way of construing suits better in the phrase, εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα, which follows. Applying the image of sowing generally, the apostle in Matthew 13:7 speaks of the quality of the sowing (not precisely the quality of the seed) as determining the quality of the harvest; and here, of one kind of sowing being "unto the flesh," the other "unto the Spirit." "He that soweth unto his own flesh;" that is, he whose general action in life is referred to his own personal gratification in his lower nature—to his own profit, pleasure, honour. The addition of ἑαυτοῦ ("his own") has a marked reference to the topic which led to this general statement: the apostle has in his view a man's gratifying his own merely worldly inclinations, to the disregard of the well-being, even the physical well-being, of other men. To sow unto the flesh of our brethren, in one sense, namely, for the promotion of their physical well-being, would bear a different aspect from sowing unto oar own flesh. "Shall from the flesh reap corruption." This by some commentators has been interpreted thus: In the harvest of That Day, nought will be found with him of all those things on which his heart has been set—nought save, at the best, mere rottenness, disappointment, and illusion. This would be analogous to the moral with which our Lord pointed his parable of the rich fool, to whom God said, "Whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?" "So is he," added Christ, "that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:20, Luke 12:21). The word φθορά, corruption, involves at least as much as this; but this view alone would furnish an inadequate antitheten to "eternal life," as also it gives less force to the word itself than it appears from its ordinary use to convey. One essential element of this verbal noun φθορὰ is the notion of decay, or the condition of being impaired, spoilt, wasted away (cf. Colossians 2:20; Romans 8:21), It is used of corruption in our moral nature in 2Pe 1:1-21, 4; 2 Peter 2:12, 2 Peter 2:19; as φθείρω and διαφθείρω are likewise applied in 2 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Timothy 6:5. But the clear presentment of its sense, when connected as it is here with "flesh," is afforded by its antithesis, with respect to the "body" or "flesh," to ἀφθαρσία in 1 Corinthians 15:42, "It is sown in corruption., it is raised in incorruption," and 1 Corinthians 15:50," Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption;" and by the opposed adjectives "corruptible" and "incorruptible ' (φθαρτός and ἄφθαρτος) in 1 Corinthians 15:53, 1 Corinthians 15:54, as well as by the use of διαφθορὰ of the rotting away of a dead body, in Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31; Acts 13:34-37. That the apostle uses the word "corruption" with a direct reference to "flesh," and therefore as alluding to or rather expressing a certain qualification of the flesh's condition, is shown by his inserting the words, ἐκ τῆς σαρκός, "of the flesh." Strictly speaking those words are not necessary for the completeness of the sentence. To all appearance they are added aetiologically, to make prominent the thought that what is sown unto the flesh may be expected to issue in corruption, because corruption is the natural end of flesh itself. For an analogous reason, "of the Spirit" is inserted in the antithetic statement; the Spirit being essentially not only living, but vivific. The words, then, seem to mean this' "shall from the flesh reap that corruption which the flesh, un-quickened by the Spirit of God [for comp. Romans 8:11], must itself issue in." In endeavouring more exactly to determine the sense of these words, it is well in the first instance to confine our view to the conceptions relative to this subject presented by St. Paul. In reviewing these, we observe that St. Paul never predicates ἀφθαρσία ("incorruption," "incorruptible-ness") of the future bodily condition of "those who perish (οἱ ἀπολλύμενοι)." On the contrary, in 1 Corinthians 15:42-54 he clearly restricts this conception of bodily being to the case of those whose body shall be assimilated to that of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, as indeed it is only to them that the entire discourse (vers. 20-58) relates. So again in Philippians 3:21, the "fashioning anew of the body of our humiliation into conformity with the body of his glory" is evidently limited to those whoso end is not "perdition (ἀπώλεια)." Again, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-21. I the "house not made with hands, eternal," appears to be an exclusive designation of the resurrection-body of the accepted believer. Once more, in Romans 2:7 the words, "to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and incorruption (ἀφθαρσίαν)," imply that incorruption is an attribute exclusively pertaining to the happiness after which true Christians aspire. All that we meet with elsewhere in St. Paul's writings fits in perfectly with his holding the view that, while "there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust," as he stated to Felix (Acts 24:15)—a resurrection surely he meant in the body—the bodies of the accepted alone wilt be incorruptible, the bodies of the lost being, for all that appears in his teaching, left in some sense subject to corruption. In what way the apostle in his own mind connected this conception, of in-corruption being a quality exclusively pertaining to the future condition of the just. with that of the "eternal destruction (αἰώνιος ὄλεθρος)" awaiting them who know not God (2 Thessalonians 1:9), we shall, perhaps, do wisely in not attempting to determine. We can, it is true, imagine ways of conjoining the two notions; 'but it will be best not to positively affirm that this or that that was St. Paul's manner of viewing the subject. Possibly the Spirit had not revealed this to him. if so, he might feel it incumbent upon him to forbear from giving forth definite statements on matters not really disclosed to his view, and, therefore, not intended to form a part of revealed truth. This, however, should not keep us back from accepting what appears to be the only probable view of the sense of the present passage, namely, that they who live a life of selfishness and carnal self-indulgence will reap the final award of having a body with flesh, in some most real and important sense, subject to corruption. The consideration that the apostle is thinking of the awards of the day of judgment, at once meets the objection that corruption is predicable of the Christian's body also. It is obvious to reply that, though the body of a believer is sown in corruption even as the body of an unrighteous man, it is revealed to us that it will be raised in incorruption; which it is nowhere said that the body of him who dies in his sins will be. As applied to objects lying on the other side of the veil which parts the spiritual world from that visible world whence all our images of thought are derived, this term "corruption" must be understood as describing a condition of bodily being, not necessarily identical with, but very conceivably only in some respects analogous to, that which it describes in relation to a corpse in our present state. The resurrection stale, with all that pertains to it, inscrutably blending, as the story, of the forty days commencing with Christ s resurrection exemplifies, spiritual phenomena with corporeal, is one which we are wholly unable to understand or to realize. This may be thought a very superfluous observation. But it is not so. The attempts intellectually to realize the events which we are hereafter to witness and to be the subjects of, and the dogmatic affirmations relating to them, made, not merely in past ages, but in the very present, render it necessary that we should distinctly keep this truth in view. The physical theory of that future state, and the eventual history which is to be evolved in it, we not merely do not know, but are absolutely incapable of forecasting. We dare not say one syllable about them beyond what is distinctly told us; and what is told us, we are to remember, is through the very nature of the case no other than images, presented in a dark dim mirror, which shows them so obscurely, that to our intellective perception they seem riddles rather than revelations: Ἄρτι γὰρ βλέπομεν δἰ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, (1 Corinthians 13:12). It is, in fact, not our intellect, but our moral sense, that the revelations of the future state are designed to inform. Next, looking out from the field of purely Pauline doctrine upon the teaching presented in other parts of the New Testament, we are reminded at once of that awful and repeated word of our Lord concerning the "Gehenna of fire"—"where their worm (σκώληξ) dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-48). It is known that, before our Lord appeared upon earth, this conception of Gehenna, the terms of which beyond question were borrowed from the closing verses of Isaiah, had already become current in the eschatological views of the Jews. This is evidenced by Judith 16:17; Ecclesiastes 7:17. This imagery our Lord adopted, recognizing, it should seem, in this portion of rabbinical teaching a just evolution of ideas which had been presented in the inspired volumes of the Old Testament—a development of them which we may fairly attribute to the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit promised to God's restored people, as e.g, in Ezekiel 36:24-28. We cannot doubt that the "worm" which our Lord spoke of means the worm which preys upon rotting flesh. The image, therefore, exactly accords with the word "corruption" as interpreted above. Whether the apostle glanced at that discourse of Christ, or was even aware of it, is uncertain; but that he both knew of it and even inferred from it in using this word "corruption," is by no means unlikely. One other reference to "corruption" as the future doom of at least certain of the lost, is found in 2 Peter 2:12, which, according to the now approved reading of the Greek text, runs thus: "But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed—shall in their destroying be destroyed [or, 'in their corruption shall even rot away'] (ἐν τῇ φθορᾷ αὐτῶν καὶ φθαρήσονται)." Possibly the word φθορά, taken as "corruption," points here to moral corruption; but the verb φθαρήσονται may very well point to the miserable doom of rotting away by which they shall judicially perish, moral corruption working physical corruption. But the exact sense is doubtful. With the clause before us we must group Romans 8:13, "If ye live after the flesh, ye are certain to die;" whilst the sentence which follows, "But if by the Spirit ye put to death the doings of the body, ye shall live," answers to the closing sentence of the present verse; as also does "death" as "the wages of sin," balanced against the "eternal life" which is "the gift of God," in Rom 6:1-23 :25. The contrasted thoughts in Philippians 3:19, Philippians 3:20 likewise closely touch those here presented to us. But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (ὁ δὲ σπείρων εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος θερίσει ζωὴν αἰώνιον); but he that soweth unto the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life eternal. That is, he that expends thought, time, effort, money, upon the furthering, in himself and in others, of the fruits of the Spirit, shall receive, from that Holy Spirit to whose guidance dwelling within him he resigns himself, that quickening of his whole being, body, soul, and spirit, for an everlasting existence in glory, which it is the proper work of that Divine Agent to effect. For the latter clause, comp. Romans 8:11, "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you [as the guiding, animating influence in your lives], he that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit dwelling within you;" in which passage the aetiologleal clause, "by reason of his Spirit dwelling in you," corresponds exactly with the aetiological clause, "of the Spirit," in the words before us. The two verses which follow show that one specific form of sowing unto the Spirit which the apostle has definitely in view, while enforcing the general idea, is that of Christian beneficence. How closely the practice of Christian beneficence was in the apostle's mind, in conformity with Christ's own teaching (Matthew 25:1-46. etc.), connected with the securing of the future blissful immortality, is markedly shown in 1 Timothy 6:18, 1 Timothy 6:19;—not the less so if we adopt the now approved reading, ἵνα ἐκιλάβωνται τοῦ ὄντως ζωῆς, "that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed."
And let us not be weary in well-doing (τὸ δὲ καλὸν ποιοῦντες μὴ ἐγκακῶμεν [Textus Receptus, ἐκκακῶμεν]); but in doing that which is good, let us not flag. That is, some sow unto their own flesh, some unto the Spirit; let us be of those who do that which is commendable; and not that only; let us do it with an unflagging spirit. Such seems to be the swaying of thought in the sentence; hence the position of the participial phrase before the verb: the participle is not a mere qualification of the verb, as it is in the rendering, "Let us not be weary in well-doing," and as it is in 2 Thessalonians 3:13; but, with an implied exhortation that such should be the case, it supposes that we are of the better class, and founds upon the supposition the exhortation not to flag. "That which is commendable (τὸ καλόν)" recites, not works of beneficence only, but every species of moral excellence, comprising in brief the enumeration given in Philippians 4:8, all of which is included in "sowing unto the Spirit," The verb ἐγκακεῖν occurs in five other places of the New Testament—Luke 18:1; 2Co 4:1, 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:13. In every one of these six passages some of the manuscripts present the variant reading of ἐκκακεῖν, which in all is adopted in the Textus Receptus, but is in all replaced with the general consent of recent editors by ἐγκακεῖν. It is, indeed, questioned whether ἐκκακεῖν is ever used by any Greek author. The difference in meaning is material: ἐγκακεῖν is to be bad in doing a thing; while ἐκκακεῖν, would probably mean to be so bad at a course of action as to leave it off altogether. In the first four of the above-cited passages it is tendered in the Authorized Version by "faint;" whilst in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 and here it is rendered "be weary," that is, "flag." In all the notion of flagging appears the most suitable, and in 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2 Corinthians 4:16 necessary. In the present passage the course of thought requires us to understand it as not so strong a word as ἐκλύεσθαι. Critics point attention to the play of phrase in connecting the expression, doing that which is commendable or good, with the verb denoting being bad at doing it. So in 2 Thessalonians 3:13, μὴ ἐγκακήσητε καλοποιοῦντες. The epigrammatic combination would seem to have been a favourite one with St. Paul, occurring as it does in two letters written several years apart. Such playfulness is not foreign to his style. The use of the first person plural may be merely cohortative, as above in Galatians 5:24. But it may also he a real self-exhortation as well. In the long, long, weary, arduous conflict which St. Paul was waging throughout his Christian career, the flesh must often have felt weak, and have required the application of this goad. And this tone of personal feeling may, perhaps, be further discerned in the use of the phrase, "in due season;" the blessed reaping of joy may seem to us at times long in coming; but God's time for its coming will be the best time; let us, therefore, be resigned to wait for that. This seems to be the tone of the καιροῖς ἰδίοις, "in its own times," of 1 Timothy 6:15. For in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (καιρῷ γὰρ ἰδίῳ θερίσομεν μὴ ἐκλυόμενοι). for at its own season we shall reap, if we faint not. Καιρὸς ἴδιος is the season assigned to an event in the counsels of God; as in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ καῖρῳ, "in his season," of the revelation of the "man of lawlessness." Καιροῖς ἰδίοις is used in 1 Timothy 6:15 with reference, as here, to the day of judgment; and in 1 Timothy 2:6 and Titus 1:3, of the manifestation of the gospel. In every case the phrase appears to intimate that the season appointed by God, though not what man might have anticipated or wished, was, however, to be acquiesced in as wisest and best (see last note). The reaping is the same as that referred to in the previous two verses. "If we faint not." The verb ἐκλύεσθαι in Matthew 15:32 and Mark 8:2 is to faint physically from exhaustion. In Hebrews 12:3, Hebrews 12:5 it is used of succumbing, giving in, morally; not merely feeling weak, but in consequence of weakness giving up all further effort. In this hitter sense it occurs in the Septuagint of Joshua 18:3 and in 1 Macc. 9:8. And this last is its meaning here. It expresses more than the flagging of spirit before mentioned; for that would not forfeit the reward of past achievement, unless it led to the actual relinquishment of further endeavour; this last would forfeit it (comp. Revelation 3:11 and 2 John 1:8). Taking it thus, there is no occasion for understanding this phrase, "not fainting," as several of the Greek commentators do, including apparently Chrysostom, as if it meant thus: "We shall reap without any fear of fainting or becoming weary any more;" which surely, as Alford observes, gives a vapid turn to the sentence.
As we have therefore opportunity (ἄρα οὖν ὡς καιρὸν ἔχιμεν); so then, while (or, as) we have a season for so doing. Ἄρα οὖν: this combination of particles is frequently found in St. Paul's writings, being so far as appears (cf. Winer, 'Gram. N.T.,' § 53, 8a) peculiar to him (1 Thessalonians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Romans 5:18; Romans 7:3, Romans 7:25; Romans 8:12; Romans 9:16,Romans 9:18; Romans 14:12, Romans 14:19; Ephesians 2:19). In every instance it marks a certain pause after a statement of premisses; in several, following a citation from the Old Testament; the writer, after waiting, so to speak, for the reader duly to Lake into his mind what has been already said, proceeds to draw his inference. The ἄρα seems to point backward to the premisses; the οὖν to introduce the inference. "Well, then," or "so, then," appears a fairly equivalent rendering. In 1 Thessalonians 5:6 and Romans 14:19 ἄρα οὖν introduces a cohortative verb, as here; in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, an imperative. The words Which follow seem to be commonly understood as meaning "whenever opportunity offers." But this fails short of recognizing the solemn consideration of the proprieties of the present sowing-time, which the previous context prepares us to expect to find here; the term "season," as Meyer remarks, having its proper reference already fixed by the antithetical season of reaping referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. Moreover, instead of for, would not the apostle, if he had meant "whenever," have used the intensified form καθώς? Chrysostom gives the sense well thus: "As it is not always in our power to sow, so neither is it to show mercy; when we have been borne hence, though we may desire it a thousand times, we shall be able to effect nothing." Indeed it is questionable whether the sense now pleaded for is not that which was intended by the rendering in the Authorized Version. The particle ώς probably means "while," as it does in Luke 12:58 and in John 12:35, John 12:36, where it should replace the ἕως of the Textus Receptus; but this needs not to be insisted upon. Anyway, we are reminded of the uncertain tenure by which we hold the season for doing that which, if done, will have so blessed a consequence. Let us do good unto all men (ἐργαζώμεθα τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς πάντας); let us be workers of that which is good towards all men. The verbs ἐργάζομαι and ποιῶ appear used inter-changeably in Colossians 3:23 and 3 John 1:5; but the former seems to suggest, more vividly than the other, either the concrete action, the ἔργον, which is wrought; or else the part enacted by the agent as being a worker of such or such a description—as if, here, it were "let us be benefactors." The adjective "good" (ἀγαθός) is often, perhaps most commonly, used to designate what is morally excellent in general; thus, e.g., in Romans 2:10, "the worker of that which is go,d" is contrasted with "the worker-out of that which is evil," as a description of a man's moral character in general. But on the other hand, this adjective frequently takes the sense of "benevolent," "beneficent;'' as e.g. in Matthew 20:15, "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" 1 Peter 2:18, "masters, not only the good and gentle, but also the froward;" Titus 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:18; Romans 12:21. In the remarkable contrast between the righteous man and the good man in Romans 5:7, the latter term appears distinctly intended in the conception of virtuousness to make especially prominent the idea of beneficence. Naturally, this sense attaches to it, when it describes an action done to another, as the opposite to the "working ill to one's neighbour," mentioned in Romans 13:10; "good" in such a relation, denoting what is beneficent in effect, denotes what is also benevolent in intention (see 1 Thessalonians 5:15). Indeed, that the present clause points to works of beneficence'' is made certain by that which is added, "and especially," etc.; for our behaviour should be in no greater degree marked by general moral excellence in dealing with one class of men than in dealing with any others; though one particular branch of virtuous action may be called into varying degrees of activity in different relations of human intercourse. "Towards all men;" πρός, towards, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Ephesians 6:9. The spirit of universal philanthropy which the apostle inculcates here as in other passages, as e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:15, is one which flows naturally from the proper influence upon the mind of the great facts stated in 1 Timothy 2:3-7, as also it was a spirit which in a most eminent degree animated the apostle's own life. Witness that noble outburst of universal benevolence which we read of in Acts 26:29. Such an escape from bigotry and particularism was quite novel to the Gentile world, and scarcely heard of in the Jewish, though beautifully pointed forward to in the teaching of the Book of Jonah. Espescially unto them who are of the household of faith (μάλιστα δὲ πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως); but especially towards them that are of the household of faith. The adjective οἰκεῖος occurs in the New Testament only in St. Paul's Epistles—twice besides here, namely, in Ephesians 2:19, "fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household (οἰκεῖοι)of God;" and in 1 Timothy 5:8, "if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household (οἰκείων)." In the last-cited passage, the adjective, denoting as it plainly is meant to do, a closer relation than "his own (ἰδίων)" must mean members of his household or family; and we can hardly err in supposing that in Ephesians 2:19 likewise the phrase, οἰκεῖοι τοῦ Θεοῦ denotes those whom God has admitted into his family as children. So the word also signifies in the Septuagint of Isaiah 3:5; Isaiah 58:7; and Revelation 18:6, Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:13. It is, therefore, an unnecessary dilution of its force here to render it, "those who belong to the faith," though such a rendering of it might be justified if found in an ordinary Greek author. The meaning of τῆς πίστεως is illustrated by the strong personification used before by the apostle in Galatians 3:23, Galatians 3:25, "before faith came;" "shut up for the faith which was yet to be revealed;" "now that faith is come." The apostle surely here is not thinking of "the Christian doctrine," but of that principle of believing acceptance of God's promises which he has been insisting upon all through the Epistle. This principle, again personified, is here the patron or guardian of God's people afore-time under a pedagogue: "of the household of faith," not "of the faith." The apostle is thinking of those who sympathized with the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ without legal observances; and very possibly is glancing in particular at the teachers under whose care the apostle had left the Galatian Churches. At first, we may believe, the Galatian Churchmen, in the fervour of their affection to the apostle himself, had been willing enough to help those teachers in every way. But when relaxing their hold upon the fundamental principles of the gospel, they had also declined in their affectionate maintenance of the teachers who upheld those doctrines. He now commends these, belonging to faith's own household, to their especial regard (comp. Philippians 3:17). "Especially;" this qualification in an intensified form of the precept of universal beneficence, is the outcome of no cold calculation of relative duties, but of fervent love towards those who are truly brethren in Christ. That to these an especial affection is due above all others is a sentiment commended and inculcated in almost all St. Paul's Epistles; as it is also by St. Peter, as e.g. in 1 Peter 1:22, etc.; and again by St. John. With all, "love of brethren (φιλαδελφία)" is a different sentiment from that sentiment of charity which is due to all fellow-men; that is, it is an intensified form of this latter, exalted into a peculiar tenderness of regard by the admixture of higher relations than those which antecedently connect true Christians with all members of the human family. Christ has himself (Matthew 25:31-46) taught his disciples that he deems a peculiar regard to be due from them to those "his brethren" who at that day shall be on his right hand; meaning, evidently, by "these my brethren," not suffering men, women, or children as such, but sufferers peculiarly belonging to himself (comp. Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:5, Matthew 18:6). Thus we see that, after all, there is a particularism properly characteristic of Christian sentiment; only, not such a particularism as a Gentile, and too often a Jew likewise, would have formulated thus: "Thou shalt love thine own people and hate the alien;" but one which may be formulated thus: "Thou shalt love every man, but especially thy fellow-believer in Christ." The reader will, perhaps, scarcely need to be reminded of Keble's exquisite piece on the Second Sunday after Trinity in the 'Christian Year.'
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand (ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί); see with what large pieces of writing (or, with what large letters) I have written (or, I write) unto you with mine own hand. There can be hardly any doubt that the rendering "ye see" of the Authorized Version, supposing, as it seems to do, that this is meant as an indicative, must be wrong (cf. John 4:29; 1 John 3:1). The ἴδετε of the Textus Receptus in Philippians 1:30 is replaced by recent editors with one consent by εἴδετε. Each one of the four next Greek words, πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα, has been subjected to a variety of interprerations. What appears to the present writer the most probable view he must explain as briefly as he is able. The interrogative πηλίκος means "how great," as in Zechariah 2:2; Hebrews 7:4. Accordingly, πόσα καὶ πηλίκα in Polyb., Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 1:8 (cited in Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon') means "how many and how large." Many, as e.g. Chrysostom, have supposed that the word includes a reference to clumsiness, ungainliness, as attaching to the apostle's handwriting ("with what big letters!'). But no example of the word being used in this sense of "ungainliness" has been adduced; and it seems safer not to import into its rendering this additional shade of meaning. The dative ὑμῖν Bishop Lightfoot proposes to connect closely with πληίκοις as μοὶ and σοὶ are often used in familiar style, with the sense mark you! But there is no instance of this use of the dative pronoun in the Greek Testament; and here surely it more naturally connects itself with ἔγραψαψ. It is not uncommon with St. Paul to insert some word or words between a substantive and its adjective or dependent ,genitive, as here between πηλίκοις and γράμμασιν (see Galatians 2:9; Galatians 3:15; Philippians 4:15, etc.). In the instances now cited there appears no more logical occasion for such a seeming disarrangement of the words than there does here. The verb ἔγραψα is used with no objective accusative following, as in Romans 15:15; 1 Peter 5:12; the substantive γράμμασιν being in the dative, because the apostle is referring merely to the form of the medium of communication, and not to the substance of the communication itself. The rendering of the Authorized Version, "how large a letter I have written," cannot be defended as a literal translation, though it may be allowed on one view of the passage to give the sense rightly. But though the plural noun γράμματα, in ordinary Greek, like literae in Latin, sometimes occurs in the sense of a single epistle or letter, it is never so used by St. Paul, who always employs the word ἐπιστολὴ to express this notion, which he does no less than seventeen times. In Acts 28:21 it is rendered "letters," in the plural number; being properly "communications in writing." The noun γράμμα was the word ordinarily employed in Greek to designate a letter of the alphabet. It also denotes "a writing," as when in the plural we read in John 5:47, "if ye believe not his writings," and in 2 Timothy 3:15," the sacred writings," or Scriptures. In Luke 16:6, Luke 16:7 "take thy bill" is literally, "take thy writings" (γράμματα being the now accepted reading in the Greek text). In 2 Corinthians 3:7, "the ministration of death in writings," the word probably refers to the ten commandments, each forming one writing; though it may mean "in characters of writing." In ordinary Greek it sometimes denotes a passage of a treatise or book (Liddell and Scott, under the word, 2 Corinthians 2:4). Next
(1) the verb ἔγραψα ("I have written") may be understood, as in Romans 15:15, "I have written the more boldly unto you," etc., with reference to the entire letter, now nearly complete, as it lies before him. In that case the apostle's words may be rendered, "See, with what long writings [or, 'pieces of writing'] I have written unto you with mine own hand." Through some cause or other, we know not what the cause was, writing with his own hand was not a welcome employment to him; so far unwelcome that he generally devolved the actual penning of his letters upon an amanuensis, merely authenticating each letter as his own by a postscript added in his own hand (see 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18. fin.). Perhaps Philemon forms the only' exception (see Philemon 1:19), apart from this letter to the Galatians. We may, therefore, imagine the apostle as painfully and laboriously penning one portion after another of the Epistle; often pausing weariedly in the work as he came to the end of each γράμμα, that is, to the end of each section of his argument, each seeming to him a long and toilsome effort. And now at last he exclaims," Look, what long, laborious performances of handwriting I have achieved in writing to you! And from that learn how deeply I am concerned on your behalf, and how grave your present spiritual peril appears to me to be!" Ordinarily it was only a brief "piece of writing" that he wrote with his own hand; here, long pieces, added one after another with painful effort. Or
(2) the verb "I have written" may be referred to what the apostle is now beginning to pen, not merely because the epistolary style of the ancients, Greek and Roman, was wont to place the writer of a letter in the temporal standing-point of its recipient, as when Cicero dates his letters scribebam Id., etc., but because under some circumstances it is natural that the writer should thus refer himself to the view of his correspondent. Thus in Phmon Galatians 1:19, "I Paul have written it (ἔγραψα) with mine own hand, I will repay it." It would be quite obvious to ourselves to express our meaning in the same manner. So far, then, as such considerations reach, it appears quite supposable that the apostle, having employed an amanuensis as usual as far as the end of Galatians 1:10, then himself took up the pen for the customary addition of an authenticating postscript; and that, for the purpose of adding especial emphasis to the postscript which he here thought advisable to add, he made his handwriting most unusually large, and that it is to this emphatic style of penmanship that he here draws attention. Many modern critics have acquiesced in this explanation; and if γράμμασιν means "letters," that is, characters of the writing, it seems the most probable; for it does not seem likely that the whole Epistle was written in letters of an extraordinary size; while, if the characters were those of his ordinary style of penmanship, the remark would be too trivial to come from him. The present writer inclines to the former method of interpretation.
As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh (ὅσοι θελουσιν εὐπροσωπῆσαι ἐν σαρκί); all those who wish to make a fair show in the flesh. In this verse and the next the apostle singles out for especial animadversion certain Christians, Galatian Christians no doubt, who were actuated by the aim of standing fair with the religious world of Judaism. They were Gentile Christians and not Jews; this appears from their not themselves wishing to keep the Law; for if they had been Jews, the external observance of the Law, being natural to them from their infancy, would have been with them a matter of course: St. Paul himself would probably not have urged them to relinquish it. The verb εὐπροσωπεῖν is not found by the critics in any earlier Greek writer, though the adjective εὐπρόσωπος, fair-faced, is used of "specious'' answers in Herodotus, and "specious words" conjoined with "fables" in Demosthenes. Aristophanes uses the word σεμνοπροσωπεῖν to "carry a solemn and worshipful face." The notion of falsity, plainly hinted by εὐπροσωπῆσαι, reminds us, Bishop Lightfoot observes, of our Lord's words respecting whited sepulchres, which "outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly," etc. (Matthew 23:27). Compare the use of πρόσωπον, face, in 2 Corinthians 5:12, "glory in appearance, and not in heart." As the aorist of verbs denoting a certain state frequently expresses an entrance upon such a state (see ζήσω above, Galatians 2:19 and note), it probably is intimated that the persons referred to were conscious that their "outward appearance'' was hitherto not acceptable to Jewish minds, but that they now were desirous of making it so. Time had been when they did not care so much about it. "In the flesh." This word "flesh" not unfrequently designates men's condition as unmodified by the Spirit of God; as when the apostle speaks of "being in the flesh" (Romans 7:5; Romans 8:8, Romans 8:9): thence also circumstances or relations pertaining to this unspiritual condition, as in Philippians 3:3, Philippians 3:4; where the apostle speaks of "having confidence in the flesh," and goes on, in vers. 5, 6, to enumerate some of those circumstances or relations. Thus, again, in Ephesians 2:11, "ye, the Gentiles in the flesh," that is, who in that state of things in which men lived before the spiritual economy intervened, were the "uncircumcision (ἀκροβυσρία)," while the Jews were the "circumcision." But as the distinction between these two classes was signalized by an external corporeal mark, the apostle in that passage immediately after uses the expression, "in the flesh," in a varied sense, with reference to this latter, "that which is called circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands." With similar variation of meaning the word "flesh" is used here. The Christians spoken of, losing sight of the cross of Christ and the Spirit's work, were becoming possessed by feelings belonging to the old "carnal" relations between Jews and Gentiles, and so were making it their ambition to figure with advantage in the eyes of the circumcision, as well as to escape their enmity. And then, as in the passage just referred to (Ephesians 2:11), the apostle passes from this sense of the phrase, "in the flesh," to another relating to corporeal flesh; for this he does in the next verse, in the words, "that they may glory in your flesh." They constrain you to be circumcised (οὖτοι ἀναγκάζουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι); these compel you to be circumcised. "Compel;" the same verb as was used above (Galatians 2:14) of St. Peter's attitude towards the Gentile believers at Antioch. As here applied, it means "advise," "urge," argue for it as right and necessary for salvation, insist upon it as a condition of friendship. "These;" not, perhaps, meaning "these only," "none but these;" it appears enough to suppose that the apostle, from definite information which he had received, was persuaded that some of those who took the lead in urging onward the Judaizing movement were led to join in it by the cowardly motives here described. With indignant scorn, he says," As surely as a man wants to stand well with the world, so surely will he be found with these circumcisers."Only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ (μόνον ἵνα τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μὴ διώκωνται [Textus Receptus, μόνον ἵνα μὴ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Χριστοῦ διώκωνται]); only that they may not by means of the cross of Christ suffer persecution. "Only that;" that is, for no other reason than that. The μὴ is thrust out of its proper position in the sentence (which is that assigned to it in the Textus Receptus) by the fervent of the writer's feelings. To himself the cross of Christ seemed the centre of all glory and blessedness; to be connected with it he would be well pleased to suffer martyrdom; but these men could be well content to shelve it out of sight, and, in fact, were doing so; and what for? because the Jews did not like it, and they did not wish to get into trouble by offending them! A grand disdain prompts the apostle, at the cost of impairing the smooth run of the sentence, to (as it were) balance against each other the "cross of Christ" and "not being persecuted." The construction of the dative to express "by means of," that by which a certain result is brought about, is not very common; but we have it in Romans 11:20, τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ ἐξεκλάσθησαν" and ibid., 30, ἠλεήθητε τῇ τούτων ἀπιστίᾳ: 2 Corinthians 2:12, τῷ μὴ εὑρεῖν. Our attention is in this passage again drawn to the manner in which the Jews regarded "the word of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1:18), as that "word" was unfolded by St. Paul and received by his disciples among the Gentiles. The great point of offence (σκάνδαλον) in the apostle's teaching respecting it lay in his presenting its pollution in the view of the Law, as inferring the abrogation of the ceremonial institute itself. On this account the Jews could not abide him nor those who attached themselves to him as their teacher, though in a degree able to put up with Christians not anti-Judaists. To the Galatians he had presented "Christ crucified" (Galatians 3:1) as he saw him to be, and they had accepted the doctrine. But now some, at least, of them were beginning to feel uneasy at observing how the Jews in their neighbourhood regarded Paul and those who attached themselves closely to Paul. Had not the Jews (they felt) high claims to consideration? Were they not the original depositaries of the oracles of God? Was not their religion venerable for its antiquity, magnificent in its temple and ritual, and in origin Divine? To these new converts from the gross spiritual darkness and degradation of heathenism, some of them, perhaps, drawn from it originally by the teaching of non-Christian Jews, the adherents to the ancient faith would naturally appear entitled to high respect—respect which they themselves were also not backward in claiming (see Romans 2:19, Romans 2:20). When the personal influence exercised upon their minds by the holy love and fervour of the apostle had through his absence begun to wane, they also, we may imagine, began to get disheartened, by feeling that their Christian discipleship was viewed with disfavour by their Jewish neighbours, by reason of its Pauline complexion; that on this account the Jews looked upon themselves, though worshippers of the same God, as unworthy of notice; nay, were even disposed to point them out to the surrounding heathens, only too willing to follow up the hint, as proper objects of contempt and ill usage (see for illustration, Acts 13:1-52.; Acts 14:22; Acts 17:1-34.; Acts 18:0.; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). And herewith we have to bear in mind also that Judaism was in Roman jurisprudence treated as a tolerated religion (religio licita); and that, as long as Christians were regarded as belonging to a sect or branch of Judaism, they might seem to be entitled, in the eyes of Roman law, to the same toleration as the Jews themselves enjoyed. But if the Jews cast them off or disowned them they might forfeit such immunity, and become liable to be treated, not only by mobs, but by the Roman law itself, as offenders. The persons, then, here censured by the apostle may be supposed to have pursued the course they did with the idea that, by making themselves acceptable to the Jews through the adoption to a limited extent of Jewish ceremonies, and especially through the acceptance in their own person and the urging upon others of circumcision, they would relieve themselves of "the offence of the cross" (Galatians 5:4). Without ceasing to be Christians, they would wipe themselves clear of the odium which with the Jews attached to Paul and those who held with Paul. Such seems to be the situation to which St. Paul's words allude. Bishop Lightfoot interprets it somewhat differently.
For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the Law (οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ περιτεμνόμενοι αὐτοὶ νόμον φυλάσσουσιν); for neither do they who are being circumcised themselves keep the Law; or, for not even. they who are being circumcised, themselves keep the Law. It is doubtful whether the οὐδὲ accentuates the main idea of the clause (see note on Galatians 1:12), or only the single term, "they who are being circumcised,'' as in John 7:5 it accentuates "his brethren." "For;" pointing back to the words," only that," "for no other reason than that," of the previous verse. The apostle means, it is from no zeal for the Law itself that they do what they do, for they are at no pains to keep the Law; but only with the object of currying favour with the Jews. The present participle περιτευνόμενοι is the reading more generally accepted, though the perfect περιτετμημένοι has a competing amount of documentary authentication. The perfect is so much the easier reading to understand ("not even those who have actually been circumcised") as to be much more likely to be a correction displacing περιτεμνόμενοι than the converse hypothesis of the latter being a correction of the other borrowed from John 7:3. "They who are being circumcised" may be understood of a party, including those who first set the movement agoing, who were one after another undergoing the rite. Another turn is given to this participial phrase, as meaning "who are eager for circumcision," "who are all for being circumcised, the circumcision party." Bishop Lightfoot is in favour of this view, referring to "the apt quotation" from an apocryphal book, in which the phrase appears used in this very sense (see his note). It is a sense grammatically difficult to sustain from the usage of the New Testament; for ὁ διώκων of Galatians 1:23, which has been cited on its behalf, does not bear it out. But the passion of scorn with which the apostle writes make the supposed strain upon strict grammatical propriety not altogether improbable. "Themselves;" this is inserted with allusion to the zeal shown by those men, both the first promoters and those drawn in by them, in urging upon others the observance, not indeed of the whole Law, but of certain of its prescriptions. The verb φυλάσσω is used similarly in Romans 2:26; Acts 21:24. The sense seems founded upon the notion of watching the Law to see what it requires, as one is endeavouring to carry it out. The article is wanting before νόμον, though specifically denoting the Law of Moses, as in Romans 2:25, Romans 2:27, and often. But desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh (ἀλλὰ θέλουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι ἵνα ἐν τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ σαρκὶ καυχήσωνται); but they desire you to receive circumcision, that in your flesh they may have whereof to glory. The conjunction ἀλλὰ is used in its proper original sense, "instead of that." All that they want is that in their intercourse with the Jews they may have your circumcision to refer to as evidence of the high respect which they and you as influenced by them have for the Law. "See! so far from trampling upon the Law, we and these our brethren too are adopting the very badge of the servants of the Law." The word "flesh" is in this clause used in its strictly literal signification. The account which the apostle here gives of the motives actuating this particular section of Judaizing reactionaries was no doubt grounded on specific information which he had just received. But such information, both in respect to its general probability and to its grave importance, was doubtless corroborated to his own mind by large experience which he had had elsewhere among the Gentile Churches of the behaviour of unsteady and imperfectly instructed Gentile converts. In almost every important place where Gentiles were won to the faith, there were previously existing communities of Jews (Acts 15:21); and contact with these must have given rise to an endless diversity of relations both of attraction and of repulsion. Everywhere, from the very first, the contact of Christianity with Judaism gave birth to varying phases of Judaico-Christian-ism such as afterwards developed into monstrous forms of error. It was no new thing with the apostle that he should find himself called upon to check, on the part of weak or insincere brethren, a tendency to draw towards Judaism at the cost of not merely unseemly but even fundamentally fatal compliances. The peril was always very near, and had to be constantly watched and guarded against.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (ἐμοὶ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο καυχᾶσθαι εἰ μὴ ἐν τῷ σταψρῷ τοῦκυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰνσοῦ Χριστοῦ); but as for me, God forbid, etc. For the construction of the dative ἐμοὶ with γένοιτο, Alford cites Acts 20:16, Ὅπως μὴ γένητα αὐτῷ χρονοτριβῆσαι, and Meyer Xenophon, 'Cyrop.' 6.3. 11, Ω Ζεῦ μέγιστε λαβεῖν μοι γένοιτο αὐτόν. But neither passage matches the tone of abhorrence which attaches to the phrase, μὴ γένοιτο, on which see note on Galatians 2:17. Here only in the New Testament does it form a syntactical part of a sentence. But in the Septuagint this construction is of repeated occurrence, following the Hebrew construction of chali'lah with a dative and an infinitive verb with min. Thus Genesis 44:7, Μὴ γένοιτο τοῖς παισί σου ποιῆσαι κ.τ.λ..; id., 17. So Joshua 24:16. The pronoun ἐμοὶ is strongly emphasized both in this first clause of the verse and in that which follows. The apostle is vividly contrasting his own feeling and behaviour in relation to the cross of Christ with those of the leaders of the circumcision party whom he has been denouncing. They would fain put the cross as far as possible out of sight, not to offend the Jews they were so anxious to conciliate—that "obnoxious object" (σκάνδαλον, 1 Corinthians 1:25) itself, as well as the inferences which the apostle taught them to draw from it in relation to the ceremonial law: their καύχημα, that whereof they would glory, should be in preference the mutilated flesh of their misled Galatian brethren; his boast, rejoicing, glory, was, and God helping him should ever be, the cross of Christ—that, and that alone. It quite emasculates the energy of his utterance to paraphrase "the cross" as being "the doctrine of the cross or of Christ's atonement." Rather, it is the cross itself which rivets his admiring view; sneered at by Gentile, abhorred by Jew, but to his eye resplendent with a multiplicity of truths radiating from it to his soul of infinite preciousness. Among those truths, one group, which to us is apt to appear of but small interest, was to the apostle's heart and conscience productive of profoundest relief. In former days he had experienced the burden and the chafing or benumbing effect of the Law, both as a ceremonial institute and as a "letter" of merely imperative command. It was the cross which released him, as from the guilt and servitude of sin, so also from all the worry and distress of bondage to ceremonial prescriptions. And this group of truths, as well as those relating to man's reconciliation with God, he felt it to be his mission, even perhaps his own most especial mission, boldly and frankly to proclaim; not only to rejoice in them on his own behalf, but to hold them forth to the view of others, as replete with blessing to all mankind; to glorify and vaunt them. His motive at present in thus vehemently protesting his own rejoicing in the cross of Christ was doubtless to rouse into fresh activity the slumbering sympathy with those feelings which had probably in some degree once animated his Galatian converts. Therefore it is that he writes, "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ," instead of "the cross of my Lord," which it would else have been in this case natural to him to say, as he does in Philippians 3:8, "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord," and according to the tone of Galatians 2:20 of this Epistle. This "our'' hints to the Galatians that they have as much reason as he has to glory in the cross as redeeming God's people alike from sin and from the Law. By whom (or, whereby) the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (δἰ οὗ ἑμοὶ κόσμος ἐσταύρωται, κἀγώ κόσμῳ [Receptus, τῷ κόσμῳ]); through which the world has been crucified unto me, and I unto the world. The omission of τῷ before κόσμῳ, which is now generally agreed in, adds to the terseness of the sentence. The article is wanting before κόσμος elsewhere, as 2 Corinthians 5:19; Philippians 2:15; Colossians 2:20; 1 Timothy 3:16. The construing of the passage which takes the relative οὗ as reciting "our Lord Jesus Christ," loses sight of the image which is now the one most prominent to the apostle's view: this surely is not Christ himself, but his cross; as in 1 Corinthians 2:2 the apostle determines the more general term, "Jesus Christ," by the more specific one, "and him crucified." The reference of the relative is to be determined, here as often elsewhere, not by the mere propinquity of words in the sentence, but by the nearness of objects to the writer's mind at the moment. In language of singular intensity the apostle bespeaks the all-involving transformation which, through the cross of Christ, his own life had undergone. The world, he says, had become to him a thing crucified: not only a dead thing, ceasing to interest or attract him, but also a vile, accursed thing, something he loathed and despised. And conversely, he himself had become a crucified thing unto the world; not only had he ceased to present to the world ought that could interest or attract it, but also become to it a thing scouted and abhorred; as he says 1 Corinthians 4:13, "We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things." The whole context of those words in the Corinthians (vers. 9-13) is here compressed into the single clause, "I have been crucified unto the world." "The world;" the term denotes unregenerate mankind taken in connection with that entire system of habits of life and of feeling in which man, as un-quickened by the Spirit of God, finds his sphere and home. As the apostle is speaking of his own personal experience, we must understand him as referring in particular to all those circumstances of civil, social, and religious being which had once surrounded him, the honoured Jew and Pharisee. These he enumerates at length in Philippians 3:5, Philippians 3:6. To these we might add, though it would, perhaps, have hardly occurred to Paul's own mind to add it, the ordinary possession of worldly comforts and immunity from want and suffering. All, he proceeds in that passage to say, he had "forfeited" (ἐζημιώθην Philippians 3:8). Nor did he look back upon his loss with regret: "I do count them as dung (σκύβαλα)." This twofold description, "I forfeited all things," and "I do count them all as dung," is here summarized in the phrase, "the world is a crucified object to me." The world, further, thus described as crucified to him, included in particular the entire system of Jewish ceremonialism, so far as it existed apart from the vitalizing influence of the Spirit of God. The "natural man (ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος)" sets great store by religious ceremonialism; it is to him, in fact, his religion. The apostle has himself felt it to be so. But his sentiment now is the very opposite: he accounts it a dead, lifeless thing; nay, even loathsome and abhorred, whenever in the smallest degree placed even by a Christian Jew in the category of Christianly obedience. That he did regard such religious ceremonialism as belonging to the "world," from which as in Christ he had become dissevered, is plain, both from Galatians 4:3, "in bondage under the rudiments of the world," and from Colossians 2:20, "why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourself to ordinances, Handle not," etc. That this particular ingredient in the whole system recited as "the world" was at this moment present to the apostle's mind, appears from his singling out circumcision for mention in the next verse. While, however, this was a part of the "crucified world" just now prominent to his view, this term comprised to his consciousness much beside; namely, the entire mass of ungodliness and vice which appertains to "the course, or age, of this world" (αἰὼν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, Ephesians 2:2), from which αἰὼν, the Christian is by the daily transforming of his character to be removed (Romans 12:2). (See above, Galatians 1:4, and note.) "Through which;" in various ways was the cress of Christ the means of effecting this mutual crucifixion between the apostle and the world. It is apparent, from the whole tenor of his Epistles, that Christ crucified, as manifesting both Christ's love to sinful men in general, and to his own self in particular, "the chief of sinners," and likewise the love of God his Father, wrought with so mighty an attraction upon his whole soul—intellect, conscience, affections—that all other objects which were only not connected with this one lost to him their whole zest and interest, while all other objects which clashed with the moral and spiritual influence of this became absolutely distasteful and repulsive. And, on the other hand, the world at large met the man who was animated with this absorbing devotion to God as manifested in a crucified Christ, with just that estrangedness and aversion which might have been anticipated. The influence exercised by the cross in crucifying the world and the apostle to each other was intensified by the especial bearing which, in the apostle's view, the cross had towards Jewish ceremonialism (see Galatians 2:19, Galatians 2:20, and notes). The vivid, intense manner in which the apostle proclaimed such sentiments alienated from him the adherents and champions of Judaism, and made him of all Christians the one who was to them the most obnoxious. And how this affected his standing, even in the Gentile world, there have been above repeated occasions for noting.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (οὔτε γὰρ περιτομή τι ἔστιν οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις); for neither is circumcision anything, nor un-circumcision, but a new creature (or, creation). The reading of the Textus Receptus, followed in our Authorized Version, is this: ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις. But by almost all recent editors this reading is replaced by the one given above. That ἔστιν is the true reading, and not ἰσχύει, all are agreed in thinking; ἰσχύει being regarded as a correction imported from Galatians 5:6. The evidence for the rejection of ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, which is found in all the uncial manuscripts except the Vatican, is by no means equally decisive. The presence of those words in Galatians 5:6, where they are very suitable to the context, has with great probability been supposed to explain their being also found here, being introduced, like ἰσχύει from the former passage, by the copyists; but here the qualification made by them is not so certainly required. The apostle felt it to be not merely true relatively, that is, for those "in Christ Jesus," but, since Christ died on a cross, true absolutely, that for salvation neither circumcision was aught, nor uncircumcision, but only a new creature. For the discussion of the terms of the aphorism as here stated, as compared with its form in Galatians 5:6 and in 1 Corinthians 7:19, the reader is referred to the notes on Galatians 5:6. The words καινὴ κτίσις may mean either "a new creature," or "a new act of creation making a man a new creature." It is hardly admissible to take κτὶσις as "creation" in a collective sense, as in Romans 8:19; though this may, perhaps, be its meaning in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation," that is (perhaps), he finds himself, as it were, in a new heaven and a new earth. Christians as such are elsewhere described by the apostle as the product of God's creative hand; thus in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship (ποίημα), created (κτισθέντες) in Christ Jesus for good works." As "begotten again" (1 Peter 1:23, ἀναγεγεννημένοι), or "born anew" (John 3:3, γεννηθέντες ἄνωθεν), subjects of a "regeneration" (παλιγγενεσία, Titus 3:5), they must, of course, be the products of a new act of creation. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-18 the sentence, "If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation," or "he is a new creature," lies embedded in a passage which describes in language of remarkable intenseness the transforming influence of Christ's death, wherever by faith it has been fully grasped. That passage, occurring as it does in an Epistle written nearly at the same time as the Epistle to the Galatians, leaves no doubt as to the ideas which in the apostle's mind cluster round the term" new creation," mentioned, here too as in effect there, in close connection with the cross of Christ, his sole supreme glory. It points to the state of a sinner consciously reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and finding himself thus translated into the midst of new perceptions, new joys, new habits of life. new expectations. "The old things are passed away"—guilt, the overmastering power of sin, laborious effort after goodness frustrated after all and ineffectual, the servile routine of a dead unquickening ceremonialism: "behold, all things are become new, and all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself through Christ." The phrase, "a new creature," appears to have been used by the Jews to describe the change resulting in the case of a heathen becoming a proselyte. That was no doubt a great change; but far greater seemed to the apostle to be the transformation in the case of one translated from the bondage and darkness of the "letter" into the "newness of the Spirit" (Romans 7:6). lie had himself experienced how marvellously great as well as how blessed the transition was; and he has described it in glowing terms also in Ephesians 1:17-10. In the present passage the particle "for" seems to point back, not exclusively to Ephesians 2:14, but to the general tenor of the whole passage in vers. 12-14, as rebuking that great ado about circumcision which the innovators referred to were making in the Galatian Churches, thereby diverting the minds of those that listened to them from the Christian's true business. This sense of the particle may seem somewhat loose; but it suits well the rapid, decisive, summarizing strain with which the apostle is now closing up his letter. The supreme concern, he means, for every one who wishes to be a member of God's kingdom is that he shall realize in his own experience the "new creation;" alike in the freedom and joy of adoption which appertains thereto (Ephesians 4:1-32.), and also in that walking of the Spirit which includes the crucifixion of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-25). On this point we may compare Ephesians 4:23, Ephesians 4:21 and Romans 12:2.
And as many as walk according to this rule (καὶ ὅσοι τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ στοιχήσουσιν); and as many as shall be walking by this rule. The word κανών, properly a workman's rule, according to Liddell and Scott, but according to Bishop Lightfoot, who, refers to Dr. Westcott, 'On the Canon,' App. A, the carpenter's or surveyor's line by which a direction is taken, is used in 2 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 10:15, 2 Corinthians 10:16 of the measurements and delimitation of districts; here, with reference apparently to a surveyor's measuring-line, as marking out a path or road. So that τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ στοιχεῖν means "walking on orderly" (see note on στοιχεῖν, Galatians 5:25) in the line marked out by what has now been said. The future tense appears to point forward to what should be the case among the Galatians when the letter now going to them should have had time to do its work. But what in the preceding context does the apostle refer to as supplying "this rule"? Many think that he points to the aphorism in verse 15, affirming the utter indifferency of circumcision or uncircumcision, and the all-importance of a "new creature;" in which case the stress would lie mainly upon the latter point, the "new all-importance of a creature," which was of perpetual interest, rather than on the indiffereney of circumcision which in itself was a matter of but passing concern. It may be fairly questioned, however, whether the apostle does not rather point to the description which in verse 14 he has given of the manner in which he himself regarded the cross of Christ, as a pattern to the Galatian Churchmen of the manner in which they also should be affected by it. It was customary with the apostle to present himself to his converts as the model to which they should conform themselves. Thus he commends the Thessalonians for that on their conversion they proved themselves imitators of him (1 Thessalonians 1:6). When discoursing to the Corinthians of his manifold afflictions and of his self-humbling, men-loving demeanour under them all, he besought them to be imitators of him (1 Corinthians 4:9-16), which entreaty he renews with a similar reference in 9:1. So he exhorts the Philippians to unite with one another in imitating him, and to fix their regards upon such as walked as they had him and those with him for a pattern (Philippians 3:17), and again repeats to them (Philippians 4:9), "Those things which ye, moreover, learned, and received, and heard, and saw in me, do,"—all which clauses refer to his own character and doings as seen by themselves or as reported to them by others (see Alford, in loc.). This purpose, of propounding his sentiments and course of action as a model for the guidance of his converts, no doubt underlies very many of those passages in which he so frankly and (we might but for this be tempted to think) so self approvingly dilates upon them. In those days we must remember there was no "Canon "of New Testament Scripture which might serve for the guidance of the newly gained converts from heathenism; for practical guidance in the Christian life, besides the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15-17), they had, perforce, to be referred partly to their own moral sense, partly to the inward teachings of the Holy Spirit, and partly, and this to a very important extent, to the living examples of eminently Spirit-taught men. This purpose, of propounding himself as an example, evidently underlay the writing of verse 14; and it is the consciousness that it was so that now leads him to use the phrase, "by this rule," in reference, as seems most probable, to that very description of his own life. It is noticeable that, after having exhorted the Philippians to do all the things which they had seen and known him to do, he adds (Philippians 4:9). "And the God of peace shall be with you;" just as he here says, "As many as shall be walking orderly by this rule, peace upon them, and mercy!" We are now brought into a position to see clearly the force of the conjunction "and," with which he introduces this verse. It connects it closely with verse 14. "I myself glory in the cross of Christ, and to that cross have sacrificed all I held dear; and for all that shall be found walking in that same path—upon them shall rest my hearty sympathy and my pastoral benediction." It is further deserving of notice that in Philippians 3:1-21., when presenting himself to the Philippians as their examplar, the apostle speaks of "many"—no doubt with inclusive reference to those Judaizing advocates of circumcision whose circumcision he scornfully styles a concision—as being "the enemies of the cross of Christ." This was written some years after the Epistle to the Galatians; but it shows that it was a common experience with the apostle to find among the Gentile Churches two classes in particular of Christians: one, consisting of his own adherents and followers in the spirit and life of the gospel; another, of those who (either because as born Jews or Gentile Judaizers, they eschewed the pollution of the cross and its aspect towards the ceremonial Law, or because they were Gentiles, ashamed before their countrymen of trusting in a Jew who had been crucified), were fain to the utmost of their power to thrust the crucifixion of Christ out of sight—"the enemies of the cross of Christ?" Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God (εἰρήνη ἐπ αὐτούς καὶ ἔλεος καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ Θεοῦ). The suppletion of "be" in the Authorized Version, in preference to "shall be" or "is," is borne out by the fact that the language of benediction, both in the greeting at the beginning of the Epistles and in their close, ordinarily omits the copula verb, which in such cases must be what is here supplied. We may compare in particular Ephesians 6:24, "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in uncorruptness," not only as similar in construction, requiring the like suppletion of "be," but also as another instance in which the apostle pronounces his pastoral benediction with a certain limitation, specifying those only who sincerely love Jesus Christ. The limitation in these two cases only implied is in 1 Corinthians 16:22 converted into a distinctly expressed anathema upon those who do not love Christ. The present passage makes the implied limitation without even that measure of stern precision which would have been marked by his writing ἐπὶ τούτους ("upon these") instead of ἐπ αὐτούς ("upon them"). It seems as if he would fain allure back to the gospel blessing those of his readers who might feel themselves as not now coming within its range. Perhaps in the addition of the words, "and mercy," we may detect a sympathizing sense in the mind of the apostle of the mental suffering, which those in Galatia sincerely devoted to the crucified Christ had and would still have to encounter, in contending for the truth of the gospel against fellow Churchmen of their own. They would probably be no mere hard-minded controversialists, but humble, loving believers, to whom the mercy of God would be very dear. The apostle adds it to his greeting only in writing to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2), distinguished apparently for the affectionateness and feminine-heartedness of his character. In Titus 1:4 the addition is not genuine. The words, "and upon the Israel of God," seem to be an echo of the "peace upon Israel (εἰρήνη ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραήλ)," which, in the Septuagint, closes the hundred and twenty-fifth and hundred and twenty-eighth psalms. The addition of the words, "of God," seems intended pointedly to distinguish the "Israel" which the apostle has m view from that which boasted itself as being Israel while it was not, and also from the false brethren (ψευδαδελφοί, Galatians 2:4) in the Christian Church, who were for linking themselves with the false Israel. The addition is not merely honorific, as in the expression, "the Church of God" (1Co 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2Co 10:1-18 :32; 2 Corinthians 11:22; 15:9), but distinctive as well—that which alone God views and loves as "Israel"—to wit, the entire body of real believers in Christ, who, as portrayed in this Epistle, are "children of promise after the fashion of Isaac" (Galatians 4:28), Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise" (Galatians 3:29), and the children of "the upper Jerusalem, which is our mother" (Galatians 4:26). Of that portion of the true Israel which dwelt in Galatia (see 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 2:10), those who, like the apostle, consecrated themselves to Christ as crucified, were the guiding and characterizing element; and therefore his blessing shed upon these spreads itself also upon those connected with them. That the apostle is even here still regardful of others among the Galatians, who were themselves" shifting away from the gospel" and were drawing others away too (Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:7), is shown by the next verse.
From henceforth (τοῦ λοιποῦ). This genitive form is found, in the New Testament, only here and in Ephesians 6:10, where the Textus Receptus reads τὸ λοιπόν. As being less ambiguous, it is chosen in preference to τὸ λοιπόν, because this latter word is also used in the sense "finally," as in Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:8, as well as for "henceforth," as in Matthew 26:45; Hebrews 10:13. The meaning of τοῦ λοιποῦ is illustrated by Aristophanes, 'Pax.,' 1050, "You shall never dine henceforth (τοῦ λοιποῦ) any more in the Prytaneum;" and Herod., Hebrews 3:15. Let no man trouble me (κόπους μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέτω). The phrase, κόπους πραέχειν, "cause trouble, or annoyance," occurs also in Matthew 26:10; Luke 11:7; Luke 18:5. Obviously the apostle refers to such trouble as was now accruing to him from the endeavours of the Judaizing party to pervert his Galatian disciples. On him fell the "anxiety of all the Churches" (2 Corinthians 11:28). In any of his Gentile Churches, the defeat of the work of the gospel by Judaizing perversion was a "worry" which touched him to the very quick. There is nothing to warrant the supposition that he alludes to assaults made in particular upon his apostolical authority, such as he had often occasion to deal with, as, for example, at Corinth. None such have been referred to in this Epistle, though he has found occasion to complain of the alienated affections of his converts. For I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (ἐγὼ γὰρ τὰ στίγματα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ [Receptus, τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησου] ἐν τῷ σώματί μου βαστάζω); I am one who bear branded on my body the flesh-marks of Jesus. The ἐγὼ is inserted with emphasis. Being such as he here describes himself, he had a claim upon his brethren to be spared unnecessary annoyance. The Greek word stigma here employed denotes a mark on the flesh, either by puncture, its proper sense, with a hot, sharp instrument, very often with hot needles, or more summarily by simply branding without puncture. It served sometimes as a mark of permanent ownership, as upon horses or cattle (Liddell and Scott, sub verb. στίζω). In respect to slaves, it was not considered humane to brand them, except for punishment, or as security in particular cases against running away. Hence στιγματίας, brandling, designated a scoundrel or a runaway slave; as Aristophanes, 'Lys.,' 331; 'Av.,' 760. Others besides slaves were sometimes branded in ignominious punishment: Aristophanes, 'Ran.,' 1507; Herod., 7:233. Thus we have in AEschines (38, 26), ἐστιγμένος αὐτομόλος, "a branded deserter." Vegetius (quoted by Facciolati, sub verb. stigma), writing three hundred years later, states ('Do Re Milit.,' 1.8; 2.5) that, in the Roman army, raw recruits had to be proved fit for service before they were allowed to have the tattoo put upon them. After due trial, they were "punc-turis in cute punctis milites scripti et matriculis inserti." But this testimony does not establish the fact of such usage prevailing in the Roman army in St. Paul's time; though it is quite supposable that then, as now, soldiers might sometimes tattoo on their arm or hand the name of a favourite general. Instances are cited of consecration to a particular god being signalized by stigma. Herodotus, writing five hundred years before, says of a certain temple of Heracles, on the Egyptian coast, that if a servant, belonging to any man whatever, took sanctuary in it, and put upon himself sacred stigmata, giving himself to the god, no one could touch him. In 3Ma Luke 2:29 mention is made of a "mark of Dionysus" ivy leaf being, by means of fire, put upon the body of Jews in Egypt in the time of Ptolemy Philopator; but this would seem to have been intended rather as a barbarous indignity, because especially abhorrent to their religious feelings, than as an actual consecration of them to Dionysus as his "slaves." But that it was in some cases employed to signalize a "sacred slave" is attested by Philo, 'De Mon.,' 2. p. 221, M; and Lucian, 'De Dea Syr.,' § 59, as cited by Bishop Lightfoot, who remarks that "such a practice could not have been unknown in a country which was the home of the worship of Cybele." An example more familiar to the apostle's mind might, perhaps, be cited from Isaiah 44:5, ἐπιγράψει χειρὶ αὐτοῦ Τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐμί, "shall write upon his hand, I am God's," which rendering Gesenius ('Thes.,' in verb. kathabh) consents to accept. But if this rendering be the right one, it may yet be doubted whether it means writing by puncture; for γράμματα στικτὰ appear in Leviticus 19:28 to be forbidden; unless, indeed, the prohibition be taken to refer to idolatrous tattoos only. But even thus the use of such in idol-worships has a further confirmation. It appears, however, to be a strong objection to our supposing the apostle to be here alluding to either the stigmata of consecration or those of other ownership, that such would infer no more suffering than would attend simple tattooing; whereas it is plain that the apostle alludes to marks which evidenced the undergoing of inflictions of extraordinary severity. The word stigma had passed into Roman usage, being employed both in a literal sense and also in a figurative one of a "stigma," as we also speak, cast upon a person's character as by a poet's lampoon. Thus Martial ('Epigr.,' 12.62) writes, "Frons haec stigmate non meo notanda," "This forehead to be marked with a stigma not of my affixing," where the word frons indicates a close adherence to the original notion of a slave's forehead branded. Suetonius ('Caes.,' 73), "Catullum, a quo sibi versiculis de Mamurra perpetua stigmata imposita non dissimulaverat, satisfacientem eodem die adhibnit coenae." Reviewing the evidence now adduced as to the manner in which the term was used, we observe that the words "brandling" and "branded" (στιγματίας and ἐστιγμένος) were used to describe a person made infamous to open view by brand-marks put upon his person. It was natural that the word stigma would thus acquire the sense of a mark of patent infamy left upon a man's person by some corporal abuse which he had been subjected to, without any other qualifying idea. Now, it appears most probable that it is in this sense that the apostle here uses the word. The term points to those scars, seams, perhaps long-continuing sores, which the long course of ever-recurring hardships and ill usage, through which he had passed, must have left upon him—patent evidence to all who looked upon him of the manner in which his fellow-men regarded and treated him; this only, apart from any qualifying idea, whether of ownership, or of military allegiance, or of religious consecration. It is in this general sense that Chrysostom appears to have read the clause; and this general sense satisfies all the requirements of the context. A strong light is thrown upon this matter by what the apostle, near about this same time, wrote to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 11:22-27. The passage, as indeed does the whole Epistle, with much also of the frmer Epistle addressed to the same Church, betokens a strong feeling at this particular time resting on his mind, of the grievous, countless, hardships which marked his career—a feeling, very supposably, just then freshened by some very painful experiences recently gone through, from the effects of which his bodily form was still suffering. "In stripes above measure,… in deaths oft. Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one; thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep." Such are some particulars which he specifies; and the enumeration is very suggestive with reference to our present point. Could he have undergone that "stoning" at Lystra, after which he was dragged out of the city as dead to be left to lie without burial, and have carried away no enduring disfigurement? Whether any marks would be likely to remain upon him from the five Jewish whippings, we cannot tell; but we may be assured that the three floggings inflicted with the cruel vitis of the Roman soldiery must have scarred his flesh with seams of permanent disfigurement. Perhaps while he wrote, sores remaining from some one of those eight punishments were making themselves painfully felt. These judicial inflictions, however, severe as some of them may have been, were nevertheless regulated by law and custom. There were m all probability other, much more barbarous and altogether unregulated, violences, which came often upon him from the brutality of mobs, from the assaults of "robbers," from accidents in shipwreck. It could not fail but that his person presented, wherever he went, conspicuously to view, tokens that he was one wont to be both regarded and dealt with as if he were, no doubt deservedly, a wretched outcast; in his own forcible, most deeply pathetic phrase, περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόμου πάντων περίψημα "as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things" (1 Corinthians 4:13). The apostle's enemies taunted him with the contrast which subsisted between the solemnity and power—would-be power they meant—of his letters, and the meanness and feebleness of his personal appearance and his personal address (2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Corinthians 10:10). His personal presence may, originally and by natural make, not have been calculated to bespeak respect. But whatever disadvantages he lay under originally, must, beyond all question, have been vastly aggravated by the bodily hard ships to which he had been subjected. These must have left effects (this, perhaps, being the "stake in the flesh" which be groaned under—"Satan's messenger to buffet him," the fruits, certainly, of Satan's working in the hearts of godless men) which he felt to be not only fraught with personal humiliation in whatever intercourse he held with his fellow-men, but also likely greatly to mar his efficiency in his ministerial work. The only consolation remaining to him was that, in the utter extinction of all self-love, he rejoiced to know that Christ's grace had, in this enhanced feebleness of his instrument, the clearer field wherein to manifest its own Divine potency (2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 12:10). "The flesh-marks of Jesus." This may be understood as meaning that they were incurred in Jesus' service. In part it may be so taken; but the relation expressed by this genitive appears to go deeper than that. The apostle means, the marks which disfigured the body of Jesus as now reproduced in his body. The genitive is used in just the same way as it is in the strikingly similar clause in 2 Corinthians 4:10, "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus (παντότε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν σῶ σώματι περιφέροντες), where ἡ νεκρωσις τοῦ Ἰησοῦ means apparently "the deadness or corpse-condition of Jesus" (compare the use of the Greek noun in Romans 4:19); the state of Jesus' νενεκρωμένον σῶμα, while yet hanging a corpse on the cross. By s strong hyperbole, prompted by the intense feeling then on his mind of his own bodily sufferings and the almost ever-present imminency of death, the apostle, in those words, refers to "Jesus' corpse-condition" as reproduced in his own bodily condition, adding the expression of his assured conviction that all was to this end—that "the life also of Jesus," that is, the life which Jesus himself lives, should be all the more clearly manifested by what he was working in the world, in and through a body apparently so death-bound as the apostle's was. The use of the phrase, thus interpreted, coheres well with the feeling which, in the writing of this Epistle, was very near to his soul, of his being "crucified along with Christ." The phrase, then, glances at those swollen, livid, blood-flecked, wales and bruises (τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ, 1 Peter 2:24 :) which the Roman scourging that immediately preceded his being handed over for crucifixion must have left on his sacred flesh—no part spared—the entire frame pervaded alike with disfigurement and with torture. To the body of his adorable Lord at that hour—to the human consciousness of every thoughtful spectator, defaced, shorn by the dis-honouring whip of the dignity properly connate with a human body, and made utterly vile (for this should seem to have been the symbolical meaning and intent of that customary preliminary of crucifixion)—and, at length on the cross, presenting to open view those brand-marks of degradedness, the apostle feels his own body to be, in the treatment it had received and the condition to which it had been reduced, in no small measure assimilated. Not only was he in spirit joined unto his Lord and one spirit with him; but in body likewise was he (so to speak) joined unto his Lord, and one body with him; being deeply "taught" in the lesson of what was meant by being "a sharer of his sufferings, while day by day becoming more conformed to the fashion of his death" (Philippians 3:10); clothed with Christ in this sense also; clothed with the Crucified One. The verb βαστάζω, as here introduced, may be distinguished from the περιφέροντες of 2 Corinthians 4:10, by presenting the notion of one's carrying something in thought separable from one's self, instead of being (so to speak) commingled with one's own being. "I am carrying, and can offer to your view, the brand-marks of Jesus." Chrysostom catches this view, perhaps carrying it out somewhat far, in his animated comment, "He saith not, 'I have,' but I carry;' like a man priding himself on a trophy and ensigns of a king." The use of the same verb in Acts 9:15, "to bear my Name before the Gentiles and kings," clearly illustrates its import here. This closing verse is withal no piteous appeal for commiserating sympathy. The tone of "from henceforth," betokening the feeling of one who has made up his mind not to be trifled with, precludes the notion of his mood being one of mere self-pity and tenderness. Far more does the apostle hereby make claim to share with his Lord in that mingled sentiment of reverence and deferential, sympathetic compliance, which the disciple of Christ might be expected to entertain towards his Lord, crucified for him; such a sentiment as would prompt him to lighten, if he might, his burden and pain, to take part in his enterprise, to help forward his designs. Those brand-marks would cry out in loud protest against a fellow-disciple's antipathy, tergiversation, or disesteem.
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen (ἡ χάρις τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν ἀδελφοί Ἀμήν); the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. "The grace of Jesus Christ" denotes his Saviour's loving-kindness, not only effectual in making a guilty soul acceptable to God through his atonement, but also in purifying it from sin, enduring it with spiritual strength, and securing its final salvation. The pre-eatery imperative "be," which, of course, is to be supplied, clothes a friendly wish in the pious form of a prayer. "With," the μετὰ which, in the Septuagint, represents the Hebrew 'im, meaning "present to help," is illustrated by Genesis 21:22; Ruth 2:4; Judges 6:12; Matthew 1:23; Mat 28:1-20 :90; John 3:2; John 16:32. "With your spirit," here, as in Philippians 4:23; Phmon Php 1:25; 2 Timothy 4:22, replaces the "with you," which is the form in which the farewell greeting is commonly couched; as in 1 Corinthians 16:23; Ephesians 6:24, etc. There is no polemical reference whatever in the substitution; rather it is an affectionate amplification or intensification of the kindly wish or blessing, the outcome of affectionate yearning, after the stern rebukes which he had felt himself compelled to address to them. It expresses his desire that Christ's grace might be very near to them—near to the most intimate and most controlling part of their nature. The singular "spirit" is conjoined with the plural pronoun "your," as in Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19 ("your body"); 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "your spirit and soul and body." The word "brethren" is added last of all, as it were in caressing affectionateness, as in Phmon 1 Thessalonians 1:7. The final "Amen" seals the true earnestness and the devotional spirit of the benediction.
Restoration of a fallen brother.
The apostle changes his attitude of rebuke into one of affectionate admonition as he addresses the "brethren" of the Galatian Churches. His language exhibits a marked softening of tone that recalls the warmth of his earlier relationship to them. There are "brethren" still in Galatia. Notice—
I. A GRAVE CASE OF OFFENCE. "Even if a man be surprised in a transgression.
1. It is not a case of mere inadvertence or ignorance, but a case of falling away from a Divine command—more probably misconduct than heresy. The doctrinal reaction at Galatia may have had a morally unsettling tendency. It was a case in which the offender yielded to the force of temptation, as is implied in the words, "lest thou also be tempted;" yet a case in which he endeavoured to hide his transgression from the world. 2. It is the case of a member of the Church who had fallen out of relations to brethren. A Christian shares in the infirmities of our nature, and may be surprised by sudden temptation, like Peter and David. The honour of Christ, the credit of religion, the offender's benefit, demand the prompt but tender interference of Christian brethren.
II. THE DUTY OF BRETHREN. "Ye who are spiritual, restore such a one." It was not a mere admonition to replace the backslider in his old Church relationship, but rather to recover him from his sin and place him in a right relation to duty. There is no hint given as to the method of restoration, but it would naturally be by kindly admonition, by faithful instruction, by prayer. There must be no blind love to intercept the friendly remonstrance; there must be no careless disparagement of the fault; there must be no suffering a sin upon our brother. It was the praise of the Ephesian Church that "she could not bear transgressors" (Revelation 2:2). Those urged to this duty must be "the spiritual"—those whose lives illustrated the graces of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), for they only would have the capacity and the inclination, while their action would be backed by the full confidence of the Church.
III. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THIS DUTY IS TO DE DONE, "In the spirit of meekness." Not with harshness or want of sympathy, dwelling bitterly on the sin and expatiating with self-complacent severity on the weakness that led to it; but rather in a spirit of love, patience, and humility, as if they had a sincere compassion for the backslider and a supreme interest in his welfare.
IV. THE REASON OR GROUND FOR THIS SPIRIT. "Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." The apostle marks this emphatic consideration by an individualizing transition to the singular number. The case may be thine. You who are spiritual may err. The saints of God have often failed in the very grace for which they were most distinguished. Therefore "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." We are, therefore, admonished to bring offenders with all love and tenderness to a due sense of their sin, and to comfort them lest they should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
The bearing of others' burdens.
"One another's burdens do ye bear, and so ye shall thoroughly fulfil the law of Christ." This verse is an advance upon the first verse, for it greatly widens the sphere of duty. Consider—
I. THE BURDENS TO BE BORNE. They are not simply "the infirmities of the weak," which the Roman Christians were called upon to bear; but sins, sorrows, errors, and temptations. It is a serious thing for the weak or the wayward to make themselves a burden to others, who have burdens enough of their own to carry. The Apostle Paul is an illustration: "Who is weak, and I am not weak?"
II. THE DUTY OF CHRISTIANS. As if to show that there is no separate interest in the Church of God, the apostle tells believers that the sins and infirmities of others are not only to be tolerated, but taken up as burdens. This is more than a counsel to "support the weak, to be patient toward all men." Travellers have often to carry the burdens of their comrades who become faint by the way. It would be a serious thing for the weak, if believers were to draw away from them and allow them to carry their own burdens. "A Christian must have strong shoulders and stout legs in order to bear the flesh, that is, the weakness of the brethren" (Luther). Christian life is a burden-bearing, but, after all, it is something short of the supreme Sacrifice. "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Let us, therefore, bear transgressors upon our hearts at the throne of grace, and upon our shoulders by brotherly help and patience. Our gratification is not to be the rule for the exercise of our Christian liberty.
III. THE MOTIVE TO THIS DUTY. "Ye shall thoroughly fulfil the law of Christ." That is the new commandment, "that ye love one another" (John 13:14). There could be no burden-bearing except from a principle of love, and the fulfilment of the duty implies a fulfilment of Christ's law. This law is not to be conceived of as if it had come in the place of the moral Law, or as if believers were now exempt from Law even as a rule of life. "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." It was so in Old Testament times; for the sum of the Decalogue is love (Matthew 22:40); and the Apostle Paul exhorts believers to love one another, on the ground of its being a requirement of the moral Law (Romans 13:8, Romans 13:9). We need Law as well as love. Law tells me what to do; love gives me power to do it. Our Lord never enjoined a greater love than the Law of Moses, though he prescribed more modes of its manifestation. The law of Christ, therefore, is only new in so far as it is enjoined upon a new model, "Love one another as I have loved you"—as it is addressed only to believers, as it sprang out of a new necessity as the distinguishing mark of discipleship, and as it goes forth into life with a new impressiveness. So regarded, the injunction to the Galatians becomes doubly impressive, as our Lord's example has the force of a law for us, for he bore with us in our weaknesses, and cannot but be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
A warning against self-deceit.
The high but false estimate that men may form of themselves is the great hindrance to this mutual burden-bearing. Consider—
I. THE STRANGENESS OF SELF-DECEPTION. It is not remarkable that a man should be the dupe of others, but strange that he should be the dupe of himself. Yet there are many who think themselves to be something when they are nothing—partly from the want of self-knowledge; partly from the deceitfulness and pride of the human heart; partly from the fallacious habit of measuring themselves by the attainments of others; partly, too, from the influence of false teachings.
II. ITS EVIL EFFECTS UPON THE MAN HIMSELF. He deceives himself, but he cannot deceive either God or man. It is a fatal delusion while it lasts, for it stands in the way of all improvement. He lives in a fool's paradise. If he had once discovered that he was nothing he would be put in the way of getting the foundation rightly laid, and he would be the more likely to have points of sympathy with the outcast and fallen. The sense of our own weakness is the best motive to an indulgent consideration for others.
III. ITS EVIL EFFECTS AS REGARDS OTHERS. This is the crowning idea of the passage. The self-deceived man is incapable of bearing others' burdens, in fact, the imagination of superior piety leads him to be harsh and censorious and overbearing to others. There are sects in our day which pretend to a deeper communion with God than other Christians, and they are only remarkable for a censorious pride which kills love. The self-deceived man thinks meanly of others' attainments, in opposition to the gospel temper, which counsels Christians "in lowliness of mind to think others better than themselves;" while he takes no delight in their graces or gifts, and will accept neither instruction nor correction from others. He seems self-supporting and self-contained, exempt from frailty, sin, and sorrow, and therefore cares nothing for the sins or the sorrows of others. It is only the disposition that can say, "Not I, but the grace of God in me," that will be ready for that mutual burden-bearing which conduces so much to the comfort and cohesion of Christian society.
The necessity of testing our work.
"But let each one prove his own work." It is not a mere call to self-examination, though that is a commanded duty which tends to deepen the sense of our infirmity and our need of a higher strength; it is a call to prove, not himself, but his work—for there is a sort of introspection which might only foster his self-importance; but a powerful check is provided by a rigorous account being taken of "work." The self-deception is mainly subjective; the correction is supplied by an objective standard applied to the work done—the broad practical result of his life. The result will be that "then," on the supposition that the work has stood the test, "he shall have his ground of boasting only in relation to himself, and not in relation to the other:'—the man with whom he was comparing himself. He may test his own work, but he cannot test the work of the other man. The apostle does not mean to say that the test would be favourable, for, judging by himself, self-examination would discover, along with graces and virtues, many frailties and follies, that would lead him to glory, not in himself, but in the mercy and love of the Lord. Self-examination is not designed to leave us satisfied with ourselves or even free from doubts and fears, but to lead us to the Lord for fresh pardon and grace. It is a useful corrective to the merely morbid self-scrutiny with which men torment themselves, to have the test applied to their work.
Our own individual burden.
"For each one shall bear his own burden." He is not called to glory in reference to his neighbour, for he has his own burden to carry. The "burdens" of the second verse point to the mutual sympathy; the "burden," or load, of this verse, to that burden which each one carries for himself and no one can carry for him.
I. MARK THE INDIVIDUALITY OF EACH MAN'S POSITION 1N God's SIGHT. Though God has set us in a wonderful scheme of human relations, we have an individual life that cannot be touched by man. We are individually responsible to God. This individuality sets man, as it were, in a solitude. He lives alone; he suffers alone; he dies alone. If he has pain in his body, no sympathy of friends can destroy it; it is still his pain. Our friends may soothe our dying moments by their prayers and their words of affection; but still we die alone. Thus every man carries alone, and apart from other men, his own burden of responsibility, or of frailty, or of sorrow. "Each soldier bears his own kit."
II. MARK THE INFERENCES TO BE DRAWN FROM THIS INDIVIDUALITY OF POSITION. The apostle does not mean to countenance the neglect of social concern nor to recommend a selfish isolation in human relations, but he condemns the harsh judgments pronounced upon others by men who have their own imperfections and infirmities to answer for. We cannot lighten the burden of our own responsibilities by any attempt to bear hardly upon others.
The duty of supporting the ministry.
"But let him who is being instructed in the Word communicate with him that teacheth in all good things." The apostle bad spoken of burdens, but he did not mean to exempt the Galatians from the burden of supporting their teachers. Perhaps they were niggardly—for Gaulish avarice was a proverb—and it was necessary to teach them their duty.
I. THIS PASSAGE IMPLIES THAT THERE IS AN ORDER OF MINISTERS IN THE CHURCH. If the ministry was common to all Christians, why should there have been provision made for the support of a particular class?
1. It is implied that the ministers were teachers, not mere celebrants of ritualistic devotion or spectacle. They taught orally, as the word signifies. It was thus that the early disciples were "nourished up in the words of good doctrine."
2. It is implied that the Word of God was their text-book. The early Christians were "taught in the Word." They had the Scriptures in their own tongue, and were in a position to test the teaching of their guides as well as "to try the spirits" generally.
3. It is implied that the teachers relented to devoted themselves entirely to the work of ministry. They had isolated themselves from secular employments, else why should it be necessary to provide them with an independent support?
II. THIS PASSAGE TEACHES THAT MINISTERS ARE TO RECEIVE AN ADEQUATE MAINTENANCE. They are to share "in all good things;" not as a gift or dole, but as a right; for Christ said, "The labourer is worthy of his hire." If inspired teachers like the apostles and prophets deserved this consideration, is it not much more needed for a class of teachers who spend much time and thought in preparation for their work? The duty is clearly set forth by the apostle. (1Th 2:6, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15.; Philippians 4:10; 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 5:18). Luther says, "Whosoever will not give the Lord God a penny gets his due when he is forced to give the devil a dollar." Calvin suggests that "it is one of the tricks of Satan to defraud godly ministers of support that the Church may be deprived of their services."
Galatians 6:7, Galatians 6:8
The two sowings and the two reapings.
The Galatians were probably disposed to find excuses for avoiding the responsibility of supporting their religious teachers. The apostle warns them of the danger of self-deception, and, above all, of the danger of imagining that a man may sow to the flesh and yet expect to reap the fruits of the Spirit. Mark—
I. THE SOLEMN WARNING AGAINST SELF-DECEPTION. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Whether the self-deception arise from pride or corruption of heart, or from the perversions of false teachers, some might imagine that there would be no harvest after the present life; others might suppose that they would not reap the same sort of seed they were sowing; others, that the harvest would have no relation to the degree or proportion of the goodness or badness of the seed. They are sternly warned not to deceive themselves. They might impose upon themselves. That is all they can do. God is not mocked, either by a presumptuous neglect of a Divine command or with services that are pretended and not real.
II. THERE IS A NECESSARY CONNECTION BETWEEN THE SOWING AND THE REAPING. It is impossible for men to break the Divine order established in the nature of things. There is a sowing-time; there will be a reaping-time. The reaping will be as the sowing. He that sows wheat will reap wheat; he that sows cockle will reap cockle. Nobody expects, after sowing wheat, to have a crop of thistles. So it is in the acts of human life. If a man sow the seeds of charity, the harvest will be answerable both in kind and in degree. The actions of this life are as seed sown for the life to come. The tare-sower cannot expect wheat; for "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
III. THE TWO SOWINGS AND THE TWO REAPINGS. "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." The flesh and the Spirit represent, as it were, two corn-fields, in which different kinds of seed are sown. The future and the present here stand in the strictest connection.
1. The sowing to the flesh. The flesh is the unregenerate nature. Every act of life has a distinct relation to the gratification of that nature. The idea of the apostle is elsewhere represented in vivid phrase. The man who "sows to the flesh" is he who "walks after the flesh" (Romans 8:4), who "minds the things of the flesh" (Romans 8:5), who is "in the flesh" (Romans 8:5), who "lives after the flesh," who "minds earthly things," who "fulfils the desires of the flesh and of the mind," who "presents his members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness" (Romans 6:13).
2. The terrible reaping. We see part of the harvest in this life. We see drunkenness dogged by disease, idleness with rags, pride with scorn, and the rejection of God by the belief of a lie. But the passage clearly points to the harvest at the end of the world, when the seed germinates into corruption. This is moral death (2 Peter 2:12; 1 Corinthians 3:17). "To be carnally minded is death." Great in consequence will be the misery of man upon him.
3. The sowing to the Spirit. All the acts of the believer have relation to the life of grace: he lays up treasure in heaven; the life created by the Spirit can have no pause—it renounces self and lives to God.
4. The blessed reaping. The harvest is everlasting life. The connection between the reaping and the sowing in the first case is that of desert; the connection in this case is established by grace; for, while "the wages of sin is death," "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Though the harvest is everlasting life to all sowers to the Spirit, it will not be the same to all; for "every one is to receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad."
IV. CONCLUSIONS. The passage suggests.
1. That we ought to have a due consideration to the importance of our present conduct,
2. That the hypocrite is a fool who imagines that he can sow to the flesh and yet reap "life everlasting."
3. That it is only by faith in Jesus Christ we shall ever be brought to cease sowing to the flesh and begin sowing to the Spirit.
Encouragement to perseverance in well-doing.
The apostle enlarges the compass of his exhortation so as to include well-doing in general. Consider—
I. WELL-DOING IS THE DUTY, THE DIGNITY, THE DESTINY, OF BELIEVERS.
1. "We are, as God's workmanship, created unto good works." (Ephesians 2:10.)
2. It is "good and profitable to men" that believers should be careful to maintain good works. These works are to be "maintained for necessary uses" (Titus 3:8,Titus 3:14).
3. They are to follow the example of Christ, "who went about every day doing good" (Acts 10:38), and who so pointedly declared that it was lawful to do well on the sabbath day (Matthew 12:12).
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSEVERANCE IN WELL-DOING. "Be not weary in well-doing." The same counsel he gives to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:13). He does not hint that the Galatians were not already doing good; he merely suggests that they must not weary in it. How much depends on perseverance!
(1) God's glory is greatly promoted;
(2) the prosperity of the Church powerfully enhanced;
(3) our own reward proportionately increased.
Therefore we ought to be open to new opportunities, to new occasions, to new objects, of usefulness.
III. THE CAUSES OF WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING. They are numerous and complex in their operation.
1. The friction of life in a world with ungodly tendencies.
2. The ingratitude and unworthiness of those we befriend.
3. We are cooled by the coldness of other men.
4. Our patience is exhausted by the number seeking our help.
5. There is so much to be done that it seems useless to begin in the hope of overtaking everything.
6. There is so much opposition to the best plans of goodness.
7. Physical fatigue has a tendency to generate moral weariness.
IV. ENCOURAGEMENT TO PERSEVERANCE. Our work will not be resultless. "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
1. There is a regular time for the harvest. "The harvest is the end of the world." The sowing goes on all through our lives. We must not be disheartened because the interval appears long. "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." If you do not find the results of Christian service on earth, you will find them in heaven. "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain" (James 5:7).
2. The reaping will surely come. It will come partly in this world, in the blessing of God upon all we possess and all we do, in the gratitude and prayers of those we help, and in the secret satisfaction which a course of well-doing comes into the heart of the believer. But our full reward will be at the resurrection of the just, and will be proportional to the nature and extent of our labours. Therefore believers ought to be "steadfast, unmovable, ever abounding in the work of the Lord, seeing that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The sphere of beneficence.
This verse sums up the ideas of the previous verses, which spoke of beneficence in general, by setting forth its objects and occasions.
I. THE DUTY COMMANDED. "Let us do good." Christian life is not a mere easy and decent inoffensiveness. A man is not harmless who does no good. The barren tree is hurtful, because it cumbers the ground and draws to itself the fertilizing qualities of the earth, which would make a better tree more fruitful. It brings forth no bad fruit; yet it is cast into the fire. Therefore we must not only "cease to do evil," but" learn to do well." "To do good and to communicate forget not" (Hebrews 13:16).
II. THE DUTY BOUNDED BY OPPORTUNITY. "As we have therefore opportunity." Cotton Mather says, "The opportunity to do good imposes the obligation to do it." It is not when our inclination or our self-interest or the thirst for fame or gratitude dispose us that we are to do good, but at every opportunity that opens on our path. These opportunities are constantly around us in the common intercourse of life, but they specially arise in connection with suffering and distress. Therefore "in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand."
III. THE SPHERE OF BENEVOLENCE. There is a wider sphere, and a narrower within it: "Do good unto all men, and especially to them who are of the household of faith." There are distinctions even in the wider sphere. We recognize them in the obligations of family life. "If any man provide not for his own, he is worse than an infidel;" we recognize the claims of friendship and of gratitude; yet our beneficence is to extend to all men within the range of opportunity. It is a significant fact that the Apostle Peter, in naming the successive graces of life that are essential to our partaking of the Divine nature, says, "Add to your brotherly kindness charity." There may be a selfish or sectarian feeling that leads us to forget the wider relations in which we stand in the scheme of Divine providence. Yet the brotherly kindness stands first. We are to do good, "especially to them who are of the household of faith;" on the same principle as we are bound to remember first the wants of our family or our friends. The spirit of the Rousseau philanthropy would not tolerate any distinctions of this sort. The household in question, which includes the whole collective body of Christians, is a large, a growing, a loving household, and, in early times, sorely scattered by persecution. There was, therefore, a special need to show kindness to its members. The" collection for the saints" (1 Corinthians 16:1, 1 Corinthians 16:2) is a practical illustration of this nearer relationship.
A personal postscript,
"Ye see in what large letters I write with mine own hand." There is a mystery about these large characters. It is conjectured that they may have been due to age, or to infirmity, or to weakness of eyes, or to the want of habit in writing Greek. But it is more interesting to see that, unlike other Epistles, which were written by an amanuensis, this one was written entirely with his own hand.
I. TO SHOW HIS LOVE FOR THE GALATIANS. The autograph would be a precious possession to them. It is the largest Epistle he ever wrote with his own band.
II. TO PREVENT IMPOSTURE. Letters were sometimes forged in his name (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). But his handwriting, being probably already known to them, would prevent misunderstanding as to the authorship.
III. TO GIVE GREATER WEIGHT TO THE EPISTLE. It showed his profound anxiety on their account at a most critical moment.
Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:13
Exposure of the tactics of his adversaries.
The apostle recapitulates in a few sentences the contents of the Epistle and exhibits the falseness of his Judaistic adversaries in a clear light. Mark—
I. THEIR DOGMATIC ATTITUDE. They "desire to make a fair show in the flesh." They made a pretentious display of religion by a zeal for external rites—"the unrenewed nature cropping out under its more special aspect of sensuousness and externalism." Yet all the while they affected a peculiar concern for God and religion.
II. THEIR URGENT ZEAL. "They are constraining you to be circumcised;" their delusive flatteries (Galatians 3:1), their arguments, their example, having all the stress of moral compulsion. The Judaizers had an immense and eager zeal for proselytism, and were sleepless in their efforts to undermine the gospel of liberty.
III. THE TRUE MOTIVE OF THEIR CONDUCT. "Only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ."
1. Their conduct was cowardly. They would avoid persecution either by renouncing Christianity altogether or by shaping it into Judaistic forms. The last was the course they took. They had no true love for the cause of religion when they insisted upon the indispensableness of circumcision, for their real motive was to protect themselves from the fierce anger of their countrymen. The cross of Christ offered salvation without law of any kind, and welcomed the Gentiles without their becoming Jewish proselytes; but the Judaizers, by circumcising the Gentiles, desired to show their countrymen that, in attaching themselves to the gospel, they did not abandon the Mosaic Law or ritual.
2. Their conduct was hypocritical. "For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the Law." They placed a burden on their Gentile converts which they were not themselves willing to bear. "Indifferent themselves, they make capital out of you." They make convenient selections out of the precepts of the Law; for they have no idea of obeying the whole Law, though it all rests upon Divine authority.
3. Their conduct was self-interested. "They desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh." They wanted to swell the importance of their sect by a large array of proselytes, who were to bear in the flesh the mark of their instructions.
IV. IT WAS JUST AND NECESSARY THAT THE APOSTLE SHOULD EXPOSE A POLICY SO MEAN, SO MERCENARY, SO INSINCERE. Love may prompt the covering of a neighbour's faults, but it is right to expose religious seducers of all sorts.
The true ground of the apostle's glorying.
"But for me far be it to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
I. THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
1. This is not, as Romanists say, the wooden cross. It would be beneath the good sense of the apostle to say that he gloried in a piece of wood.
2. It was not the metaphorical cross borne by believers—afflictions. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
3. It was the atoning death of Christ. The apostle did not glory in this because of its moral influence upon his life, nor even because it was a manifestation of Divine justice and love, but because Christ, through his expiatory sufferings on the cross, procured for us eternal life, which he applies by his Holy Spirit.
II. THE ATTITUDE OF THE APOSTLE TOWARD THE CROSS. He gloried in it.
1. It implied that he had abandoned the way of righteousness by the Law.
2. It implied that he trusted in the atoning death of Christ for salvation.
3. It implied the exclusion of all other elements in which errorists might trust as grounds of salvation.
III. THE EFFECTS OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST. "By which the world has been crucified to me, and I unto the world." It is not material whether the double crucifixion here described is referred to Christ or to his cross; for as it is only Christ crucified whom the apostle preached, it is through him the believer is crucified to the world. Christ's cross has sundered the relationship between Paul and the world. They are dead to each other. Luther says, "The world and I are well agreed. The world cares not a pin for me, and I, to cry quittance with it, care as little for the world." Consider:
1. What is the world? It is that sphere of things in which the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life find their natural development. It is the world as opposed to God. "The friendship of this world is enmity with God" (James 4:4).
2. "How is the world trucked to the apostle " It is not that the apostle regards
(1) the world as useless.
(2) Nor as a place to be abandoned, in a spirit of monkish austerity. Luther says, "The monks dreamed that the world was crucified to them when they entered into their monasteries; but by this means Christ is crucified, and not the world. Yea, the world is delivered from crucifying."
(3) Nor as a scene upon which he is to wreak his morbid spite or bitter misanthropy. But
(4) it implies that the world had lost its attractions for him, its power over him, its influence to lead him astray. There was a time when he was not so crucified—he was "alive once;" but death in Christ and with Christ was his death to the world and the death of that world to him.
3. How is he crucified to the world? The world regards him as a dead man, who has no longer any attractions that it should desire him. It regards him no longer as its own, and therefore hates him to the point of persecution. This inter-crucifixion came about through his union with Christ, and that union was effected by the cross. Well, therefore, might the apostle glory in the cross!
The fundamental fact in Christian life.
This is regeneration. The Jew might find it in circumcision; the Gentile, in liberty; but "in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" Consider—
I. THAT CHRIST OBLITERATES THE MOST HIGHLY VALUED DISTINCTIONS,
1. In him the old separating distinctions are no longer in force. They have ceased to be. Jews and Gentiles are made one in Christ. They are fellow-citizens, of the same body, of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). They are made "one new man."
2. In him the old separating distinctions have lost all their value. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision ever availed anything for justification. The Jew might be ready enough to concede the point as to uncircumcision, but he would be offended to hear that his circumcision availed nothing. The sentence of the apostle cuts up by the roots all the ritualism of the Churches. Eating of meats, celibacy, holidays, are nothing; we are no better for abstaining nor are we the worse for eating.
II. THAT THE FUNDAMENTAL FACT IN CHRISTIANITY IS REGENERATION.
1. This constitutes it an entirely spiritual system, in which the outer is nothing, the inward is everything. It is not a mere change of opinion, or of party, or of outward life. It is not of "blood; "—men may be noble by birth, but they cannot be holy by birth; "not of the will of man," as many a godly father knows by bitter experience as he mourns over the waywardness of ungodly children.
2. The new life originates in Christ. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The spiritual renewal springs from union with Christ. It is "not of the will of man," for man cannot change his own heart. Christ is our very Life (Galatians 2:20).
3. It is a new life; for it has new thoughts, new desires, new principles, new affections, and stands in everlasting relation to the new name, the new song, the new Jerusalem, the new heavens, and the new earth. The new birth, in a word, has ushered the believer into a new world.
The apostolic blessing.
This takes its colour from the tenor of the Epistle. Consider—
I. THE AUTHORITATIVE RULE FOR CHRISTIAN GUIDANCE. "As many as walk according to this rule."
1. Christians are not lawless in their obedience. They walk according to rule, and are never so free as within the limits of rule.
2. The rule is evidently that expressed in the previous verse—that what is outward in religion is nothing, and what is inward is everything; that the new creation is the whole of religion. If this position were rightly recognized, to be a Jew would be no privilege, to be a Gentile would be no barrier.
II. THE BENEDICTION. "Peace be on them, and mercy." The two greatest blessings of the covenant. Peace is the distinctive theocratic gift—" Peace shall be upon Israel" (Psalms 125:5); mercy is the blessing in which peace finds at once its origin and support.
III. THE OBJECTS OF THE BLESSING. Those "who walk according to this rule" and "the Israel of God." The first class was not Gentile believers as such, and the second Jewish believers as such. The blessing is for the entire number who walk according to this rule, but the apostle finds among them a class whom he describes with a tender and suggestive fitness as "the Israel of God." He had been all along proving that the true Israel was "of faith," but he evidently thinks of his countrymen as standing apart from their Judaistic perverters in the glorious eminence of "the Israel of God." It is a peculiar expression, still more distinctive even than "Israel after the Spirit," and emphasizes the Divine ownership in those who are "the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).
An apostle pleading for forbearance.
He now turns round to his adversaries, and with one parting word asks to be let alone.
I. A CLAIM TO BE LEFT UNMOLESTED. "Henceforth let no man cause me troubles," by gainsaying my doctrine, impugning my apostleship, or imposing upon me the labour of a defence. He might well appeal to their forbearance; he needed to be strengthened rather than weakened, comforted rather than discouraged.
II. THE GROUND OF HIS CLAIM. "I bear in my body the marks of Jesus." "I"—not the false teachers who plan to escape persecution by their hypocrisy—" bear in my body the marks"—in many scourgings, wounds, and scars—of Christ's ownership. These marks were the visible vouchers of his apostleship.
His parting word.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen." The Epistle began with a salutation of grace and peace; it ends with grace.
I. THE BLESSING. "Grace," which is at once the beginning, middle, and end of Paul's theology; and the beginning, middle, and end of Christian life.
II. THE TOKEN OF PARTING TENDERNESS. "Brethren." It comes last in the sentence, as if, after all his grave censures, he would remember they were still brethren in Christ. His spirit softens as his pen traces the closing words of the Epistle, and the sweet "Amen" seals everything with the token of his deep sincerity and his tender interest in their welfare.
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
The restoration of the erring.
The walk in the Spirit, which eschews vain-glory and envy, further manifests itself in consideration for the erring. The sins of others become our concern, and we anxiously seek how we can best have them restored. Here, then, is a burden which Christians have not undertaken as earnestly and sympathetically as they ought to have done; it is the burden of sin which weighs on other people's hearts.
I. THE PREPARATION FOR DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S SINS. (Vers. 1-3) The idea of Paul here is that the Pharisaic temper is utterly incapable of the restoration of the erring. Thinking himself to be something, not realizing that he is in God's sight nothing, the Pharisee deceives himself, and so cannot become the guide of others. He will be severe through his self-satisfaction, hard and unsympathetic because he is ignorant of his own need and cannot consequently know the needs of others. His pride makes sympathy for the abased impossible, and he passes on in utter uselessness. But when the Lord makes us meek, when the Lord impresses upon us the fact of our own liability to temptation, when the Lord leads us to the sifting of our own work, and to a higher standard than mere comparison of it with that of others, when, in a word, we are led out of Pharisaic thankfulness that we are not as other men into Christian humility and self-abasement,—then are we in some measure fitted to take up the problem of other people's trespasses and to solve it. It is the "spiritual" who are to undertake the delicate work.
II. THE LAW OF CHRIST IS TO BE OUR METHOD. (Galatians 6:2.) Now, when we consider broadly the work of Christ, we find that it resolves itself exactly into this work of restoring the erring. This was the purpose of his life and death, to bear other people's burdens—the burdens of sin. Of course, Christ could deal with sin in a more radical way than we can. He was sinless; he was Divine; he could accept of the responsibilities of human sins and atone for them, as we cannot do. But we can surely have fellowship with him in concern about other people's spiritual state; we can sympathize with them, and perhaps encourage them to make us their confidantes, so that we may do something for their relief. We can also keep their restoration steady as a star before us, and follow the Master in leading them to renewed hope. In all these ways we may follow the law of Christ in dealing with delinquent brethren. The fact is that, because we cannot share in Christ's atoning work, we are tempted often to let sin lie outside our deliberate philanthropy. We are willing enough, perhaps, to help a fellow out of the burden of poverty, of outward misfortune; but to help him as a spiritual counsellor seems beyond our province. And yet we are not surely very thorough in our philanthropy if we do not try to touch and remove the deeper burden of heart-trouble by leading the erring to our elder Brothel'.
III. THERE WILL BE JOY AS WELL AS DISAPPOINTMENT UPON THIS PATH OF CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY. The heavenly world gets more joy out of the penitent prodigals than out of the unfallen beings (Luke 15:1-10). It is the same with us in our humble efforts after restoring erring brethren. What a joy it is to think that he has repented and got unburdened and restored! There is no joy of exactly the same pure intensity in all the world. There is music and dancing in our hearts as in the great Father's house. Earth and heaven are one (Luke 15:25). There will be a measure of disappointment. Souls over whom we have sighed and wept, for whose salvation we have longed, may disappoint us sadly; but we can assure ourselves that in this respect also we are in fellowship with God. Every impenitent soul must be a disappointment to the Supreme! We leave the mystery at his holy feet, and, notwithstanding disappointment, resolve in dependence on him to work bravely on until our day is done, persuaded that our tale of souls relieved shall be longer in the end than we have dared to dream.—R.M.E.
The seed-time of philanthropy.
Paul has just spoken of the most delicate and precious form of philanthropy—that which deals with a brother's sins. And now he passes on to speak, just for a moment, of the duty which the Galatians owe to their spiritual teachers. They are pre-eminently the unburdeners of men's hearts; they undertake as life's chief work the ministering to minds diseased. Let them be considered, therefore, and receive all good things from those they serve. But he passes on to the greater truth of which this "ministerial support" is only a small application—that life is a seed-time; and, according as men sow, must they real,. Let philanthropy rejoice, therefore, in every opportunity of doing other people good, for a harvest with its golden glory awaits all true workers in the other life.
I. WHEN THIS LIFE IS LOOKED UPON AS SEED-TIME, WE ARE PROJECTED OF NECESSITY FOR OUR HARVEST UPON ANOTHER AND BETTER LIFE, The mistake many make is in turning this life into harvest and looking on what it affords as all. It makes a mighty difference if I am living in the autumn only and am for ever past the spring. Now, Christianity, as the religion of hope, leads us to this view of the present life. It is only seed-time. The harvest is not yet. No refinement of speculation can be allowed to cheat us of our assurance of immortality. We are only in the spring. The summer and the autumn are before us.
II. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE FLESH HAVE A FEARFUL HARVEST BEFORE THEM. (Verse 8.) Now, it is well for us to remember here that ritualism, or salvation by ceremonies, is the error mainly attacked in this Epistle. And a careful study of Paul's writings shows that he puts this into the same category as the sins of the flesh. "Whereas there is among you," said he to the Corinthians, "envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" The exclusiveness of the ceremonialists was a bondage to the elements of the world. "The Law," it has been powerfully said, "was properly a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ; but in so far as its temporary disciplinary character was lost sight of—so far as it was made a ground of national exclusiveness, and its observance a matter of personal pride—it cut its votaries off from the righteousness of God, which is essentially a derived, communicated, and universal righteousness; not of works, but of grace; not for a peculiar people, but for all men. They were living, not in the freedom and self-abandonment of the Spirit, but in the exclusiveness and selfishness of the flesh." Hence the sowing to the flesh, in its more elevated or more degraded forms, can have only one issue, and this is "corruption." What comes of the exclusiveness and fair show in the flesh? Does it promote spiritual interests? Is it not productive of vain-glory and of the corrupt, self-righteous spirit? The harvest is one of disappointment. It profiteth nothing. Into the corruption to which the grosser sins of the flesh lead we need not here enter with any particularity.
III. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE SPIRIT SHALL REAP ETERNAL LIFE. (Verse 8.) The sowing to the Spirit is the antithesis of sowing to the flesh. It means living with spiritual and immortal aims. It means, as the succeeding context shows, the life of active philanthropy. Now, a harvest of "eternal life" (Revised Version) is before all such philanthropists. Their life on earth is a seed-time which has this immortal harvest. The very life of God, who is eternal, becomes ours, and its fulness within us is just proportional to our present diligence in philanthropy.
IV. THIS SHOULD LEAD TO GREAT PATIENCE AND COURAGE IN OUR WORK. (Verse 9.) We should not faint or get weary in our well-doing. Work along this line is sure to tell. Let us not be discouraged. Let us give the first place in our philanthropy to "the household of faith," and the second place to "all men" indiscriminately. Let us honestly be public benefactors, and a multiplication of blessing will be found awaiting us when the harvest comes, beyond our most sanguine hopes. The patience of hope is the attitude of every believing soul, and the harvest is in a wealth of life beyond the shadows proportional to our philanthropic spirit here.—R.M.E.
Glorying in the cross.
Paul has been urging the Galatians to do good to all men, for now is the seed-time of philanthropy, and the harvest will be afterwards. And now he appeals to them by the "large letters" of this unique Epistle, which seems to have been the only one which was a complete autograph. Though penmanship was a trouble to him, he was yet anxious to do for these Galatians what good he could in the spirit he has been enforcing. But philanthropy has its counterfeits. Consequently he warns them once again against those teachers of ceremonialism, who would have the heathen converts to try to save themselves by Jewish ceremonies. These are merely making tools of them to save themselves. They wish to escape persecution for Christianity. Paul, on the other hand, glories in the cross, and carries in his body the marks of the Crucified One. The following thoughts are here suggested:—
I. THE TOLERATION EXTENDED BY THE HEATHEN WORLD TO JUDAISM. The heathen world was largely latitudinarian. The idea was comprehensive. All gods were to be put in the Pantheon. But among the idolatries of the East, Judaism, a spiritual worship, got a footing. Its synagogues were built side by side with the heathen temples, and they were allowed to worship without molestation. Their proselytism was trifling; their missionary enterprise was unworthy of the name. The heathen could not fear them. Hence their immunity from persecution.
II. THE JEWISH TEACHERS THOUGHT THAT, IF THEY MADE ALL CHRISTIAN CONVERTS JEWISH PROSELYTES, THEY WOULD SECURE CHRISTIANITY FROM PERSECUTION. They did not want to be persecuted for the cross. They wanted to avail themselves of the toleration of Judaism and merge Christianity in it. An emasculated Christianity might escape the persecution which, in its naked simplicity, it was fitted to secure. It was a policy of compromise, begotten of cowardice and fear. Pride went along with it. It would be a grand thing to count up so many converts to Judaism and glory in the growth of circumcision. It was a selfish stroke under the guise of philanthropy.
III. THE ANTAGONISM INDICATED BY THE CROSS. NOW, the cross of Christ is the expression of the antagonism of the world to the self-sacrificing Philanthropist who thus perished. It could not and would not tolerate the person who would not save himself when he had the power. It believes only in those who can take care of number one. As soon, then, as a man like Paul gets into unison with the crucified Christ, as soon as the cross becomes an experience within, and a self-sacrificing spirit takes hold of a man for the sake of doing good to others, that moment the world and he become antagonistic. They cannot get on together. The world is crucified to the person and he to the world. Each wishes to put the other out of the way, and as contemptuously as possible. As soon, therefore, as the world discovered what Christianity meant, that it meant a brotherhood of self-sacrificing philanthropy, it took alarm, for it saw that, if Christianity were not put down, it would put worldliness down. Hence the drawback of persecution attaching to the Christian faith.
IV. IN THIS UNWORLDLY CROSS PAUL GLORIED. He appreciated its efficacy. He recognized its claims. He allowed it to make him unworldly. Hence he made it the sum and substance of his teaching. He preached "Christ crucified" continually. Circumcision was nothing in which to glory. It was a carnal ordinance which might be very carnally administered, and a mere stepping-stone for pride. But the cross of Jesus was an object in which to glory. Its spirit was so unworldly, so self-sacrificing, so noble, that nothing in this world was so worthy of our interest and glorying.£
V. HE HAD CHRIST'S HAND UPON HIS BODY. Now, if a man goes in for self-sacrifice, as Paul did, under the spell of Christ's cross, his body will soon show it. There can be no pampering of the flesh. A spiritual soul soon makes the tenement enshrining it to transmit some of its glory. Paul shows the marks of self-sacrifice upon his person. Christ had made him his slave, and put the brand upon him. As Christ's prisoner, he had the seals of office in his person. Consequently, no man need trouble him or try to move him away from his standard, the cross. It is a noble ending to this fine Epistle. May it make all its students to glory in the cross also!—R.M.E.
HOMILIES BY R. FINLAYSON
Treatment of a fallen brother.
I. CHRISTIAN WAY OF TREATING A FALLEN BROTHER.
1. It is our duty to restore him. "Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of meekness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." This subject arises out of the warning against vain-glory at the close of the last chapter. When a vain-glorious spirit possesses a society, some provoke as superiors, and others are filled with envy as inferiors. Vainglory is usually connected with such external things as rank and wealth. The apostle here supposes it carried beyond these, carried even (that seems to be the force of the word) into the inner sphere of character. He supposes some one connected with the society (presumably the Christian society) falling into sin. He describes him as overtaken in some trespass. The language defines without excusing. It indicates that the trespass was solitary or occasional, and not habitual. If it had been habitual, then he was not entitled to a place in the society, and the proper course toward him would have been excommunication. But the trespass was not to be regarded as a fair representation of his character as a whole. He was overtaken in it, before he rightly considered what he was doing. That by no means relieved him from blame. It showed a want of steadiness in his Christian course. It showed a want of reliance on the Divine supports. It showed carelessness in the use of appointed means. It could be said to him, "Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way?" In such a case, then, how was he to be dealt with by the spiritual, i.e. not those who remained true to Paul and his doctrine, nor those who were strong, but those who, according to the Christian idea, desired to be led by the Spirit, to express the mind of the Spirit, i.e. in the specified circumstances. It is the teaching of the apostle that we are to restore a fallen brother. It is to be our object that he should be brought to a right state of mind. That he should trespass and not be sorry for it would be neither for his good nor for the good of the society. A fallen brother having evinced sorrow, we are to receive him back into the place which he formerly occupied, even as we believe that Christ, from his treatment of sinners when on earth, receives him back. We are to restore him in the spirit of meekness, i.e. in the spirit which, while characterized by faithfulness, is chiefly characterized by meekness. There is to be the absence of self-exaltation. We are not to triumph over a brother, as though his fall added to our importance. There is to be the absence of that harshness which accompanies self-exaltation. We are not to wish to give him a sense of his inferiority to us in respect of his fall, nor are we to wish that he should be filled with sorrow or kept back in any way more than the ends of holiness require. We are not to break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking flax. The ground on which we are to restore him is of the strongest nature, and, to bring it home with more power, there is a singling out of the reader, "Looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Thou art to look to thyself as not beyond trial. Thou art to look to thyself as having elements of weakness in thy flesh; and therefore liable to be tempted, and, when tempted, to fall. Nay, thou art to think of thyself as having in the past been tempted and having fallen before temptation. It has been said that, when looking on an offending brother, we may reflect with ourselves—We either are, or have been, or may be all that he is. If we have not sinned in the same form, yet have we sinned in a form which may be as heinous before God. We are to regard the fall of a brother only as a call to self-humiliation and tender dealing.
2. This is to fulfil the law of Christ. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Mutual dependence is a law of the universe. As the philosophic poet has it, "All are but parts of one stupendous whole.' Nothing stands alone; each depends on all. Look at the innumerable worlds that inhabit space. God might have held each world in its place separately and out of relation to every other world. But he has chosen to hold all worlds together as a universe, or one vast world, by a law according to which all worlds and all particles of matter also attract one another in a certain proportion to mass and distance. The material world is one vast inter-dependency, so finely balanced that a modification of a part would necessarily be the modification of the whole; while the aberration of a large mass might be the destruction of the whole. The apostle points out the same thing in the human body. "The eye cannot say unto the head, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you." As in the human body, so it is in human society. The greatest happiness of individuals is not to be attained by each being his own servant, but by there being division of labour and each being as much as possible the servant of all. The greatest happiness of nations is not to be attained by each keeping within its own resources; but by each developing its own resources to the utmost, and exchanging them for those of other nations. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that Christ, in founding a society, lays down this law of dependence for its regulation. Indeed, he has to enact no new law, but only to give a higher sanction and application to an existing law. He finds men already dependent on one another, all the more by the entrance of sin, and he takes advantage of this for the training of his people. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." It is implied that there are certain burdens which one Christian can bear for another, and which that other can bear for him, and which can in this way be lightened for them both.
(1) Burden of want. We mean the burden of poverty which is commonly called want, being most palpably, though not most really, so. For we have all to be supplied with our daily bread, and, while some are rich or comparatively rich, i.e. to say, have more than they need, others are poor or comparatively poor, i.e. to say, have less than they need. God might have ordained all to be rich and none to be poor in the Church. But he has, on the contrary, ordained some to be rich and others to be poor, i.e. to say, he has made a dependence of the poor on the rich. "The poor," says the Lawgiver here, "ye have always with you." And we look forward to no golden era of science when there shall be no poor in our Churches. Certain it is that many are poor by circumstances over which they have had no control. And, while trade is not conducted on thoroughly Christian principles, which it will never be while there is sin and selfishness in the heart of man, there will always be circumstances bearing hard on some of our Church members. Now, we are to consider the care of the Christian poor. Having little coming in and perhaps many mouths to fill, they have a real burden on their minds, a burden which we would not choose to bear for ourselves. And the law of Christ is that we are to bear this burden for our fellow-members, those of us who are in a position to do it—bear it as we would have them to do it for us in like circumstances. Why are we not in their position and they not in ours? why have we more than enough and the less than enough? is it not of favour, and of favour that we may minister to their necessity? And we should minister to their necessity were it only for our own good, to counteract that greed which is apt to grow insidiously upon men who are prospering. And for this reason it were, perhaps, to be wished that there were more poor in some of our Churches, that there might be a greater flow of Christian charity. We are to bear this burden for them, as those who have the same heavenly bread to eat of. A little sacrifice on our part may do much to lighten their burdens and cheer their hearts. And we should be quick to know where we can do good in this way. If there are not always those who are in clamant need, there are always those whose struggle for subsistence might well be made easier, whose difficulties might well be made fewer, and whose comforts might well be added to. As to the way in which we are to do it, we are to do it with discrimination, as good stewards of what we have been entrusted with for others. We are to do it as though it were a luxury to ourselves, and not as though we were conferring an obligation. We may do it secretly when it is no object to manifest personal kindness. We are always to do it with reverence. For, if there is anything in our bearing calculated to destroy the self-respect of the recipient, when he is taken at a disadvantage, then we may be removing one burden, but we are at the same time laying another upon him which it will be more difficult for him to bear. When we give help to any one we should be very studious to make him feel that he is our equal in being a man, and, in the case before us, a Christian.
(2) Burden of affliction. We mean the burden of sickness or bereavement. For we are all mortal. "Death has set his mark and seal" on our bodies. We are all liable to sickness and decay. And, when we come within the precincts of the Church, we do not leave our ills behind us. But here, of this one and of that one it is said, "He is sick." Now, we are to consider the case of the afflicted members of the Church. They have a burden to bear. When of those beloved one after another is laid in the grave, the burden of mortality presses heavily enough upon them. "What could be heavier?" they seem to say through their tears. When, by a succession of premonitory symptoms, they are made aware that their own health is failing, the burden seems to press yet more heavily. It is something more to feel for themselves as if life were slipping out of their grasp. When, at last, they are prostrated upon the bed of sickness and are withdrawn, perhaps for ever, from the wonted scene, from the sanctuary, from the sphere of usefulness, the burden seems to be weighted as with lead, and there is a multitude of thoughts within them. Now, Christ has appointed for such; and his law laid upon fellow-members is, "Bear ye this burden for them." We are to bear this burden for them; for we may yet be in their case, and we should like the same office to be performed for us. We are to bear this burden for them; for so closely are we related to them, that it is as though part of ourselves were suffering. If we have a fine spiritual organism, then, what a fellow-Christian suffers will, as it were, vibrate through us. We are to bear this burden in the way of sympathy. We may show our sympathy by a visit to the sick-bed, by a kind inquiry, by a kind office, by a kind expression, by a kind look. We are to be studious to show that we are not wholly taken up with ourselves, but have a place and a tender feeling for them. For, oh, when life is ebbing, it is hard to think that they are forsaken; while it is cheering to think that there are around them messengers of Christ, each, as it were, conveying to them a portion of the Master's sympathy. It is a great accomplishment to be able to administer consolation.
"The noblest art
Is his, who skills of comfort best;
Whom by the softest step and gentlest tone
Enfeebled spirits own,
And love to raise the languid eye,
When like an angel's wing, they feel him fleeting by;—
Feel only, for in silence gently gliding
Fain would he shun both ear and sight."
We should cultivate this Divine art, that we may become proficients in it. We should seek each to be a Barnabas, a son of consolation, especially to the Lord's afflicted ones. It is a fine spectacle to see a pilgrim bearing the burden of a fellow-pilgrim who may be nearing his journey's end. May the Lord, by his grace, break our hearts, so that we shall feel, as with his own fineness of feeling, for every sick Lazarus in our midst!
(3) Burden of spiritual need. We mean the burden connected with our living the Christian life. For we have all our spiritual difficulties. We find it hard, with our natural weakness, to live up to the Christian standard. As Christians, we all need encouragement. Now, the ordinance of Christ is that we are to bear this burden for one another. We are to assist one another against the evil of our hearts, against the temptations of life. For this purpose we are constituted into a society, and not left each to live the Christian life apart by ourselves. As members of the same Christian society, we are to be interested not least in one another's highest welfare. It is very encore aging to think that there are persons interested in us as spiritual beings, who have passed through similar experiences themselves, and who are, therefore, anxious to do us all the good that lies in their power. While very sad must it be to be possessed with such a thought as that which possessed the psalmist—we have all felt a little of it in certain moods—"I looked on my right hand and beheld, but there was no one that would know me, refuge failed me, no man cared for my soul." The burden to which we are specially referred in the context is the burden of trespass with which a brother is weighted. Of all burdens, the only intolerable burden is sin. Far more than the burden which a fellowman may lay upon us, or than what God may see fit to lay upon us, is what we lay upon ourselves when we incur guilt. Of all positions in which human beings may be placed, the worst is that of impenitence, of insensibility to sin. Next to that is when we have been awakened and have afterward been overtaken in a trespass. When there is want of sensibility as to the evil of what we have done, that is an aggravating circumstance. Now, we are to feel burdened with the burden of our brother's trespass. We are to feel vexed and saddened that he has fallen, even as though we had fallen ourselves. We are not to feel for him as though he had been simply unfortunate, but we are to feel for him as placed in the grievous position of having sinned against God. Our sympathy is not to amount to tolerating sin in him. Neither can it avail to relieve him from his guilt. But it may avail to increase his sensibility to sin, and to encourage the desire in him to be delivered from his awful position. The apostle's teaching, in keeping with Galatians 5:14, is that the bearing of one another's burdens gives completeness to our filling up of the Law.
II. VAIN-GLORIOUS WAY OF TREATING A FALLEN BROTHER.
1. The root of the evil. "For if a man thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." It is true that he who triumphs over a brother in his fall injures him, by discouraging him from coming back to the paths of rectitude. But the apostle goes to the root of the matter when he says that he practises deception on himself. He thinks himself to be something when he is nothing. That is true of the vain-glorious man. That in respect of which he raises himself above his neighbour is unreal, or he is in the way of making it unreal by the spirit in which he regards it. And thus in the false importance he attaches to himself he is prevented from being sympathetic, He does not bear his neighbour's burden, because he does not feel his own.
2. Corrective. "But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbour." Let him apply the proper tests. Let him not compare himself, especially with one with whom he thinks he can compare favourably. But let him compare himself with the Bible standard. Let him compare himself with the example of Christ. Let him apply the test of humility, "God resisteth the proud, but he giveth grace to the humble." Let him apply the test of brotherly love, "We know that we have passed from death into life, because we love the brethren." The result of this self-examination will be to bring us to reality. If we have the root of the matter in us, then we shall be able to discover the working of Divine grace in us. And if there is also evil discovered, then that, being reason for our being humbled before God, will lead to ore' having more reality. And then, through self-examination, shall we have matter for glorying in regard of ourselves alone, and not of our neighbour.
3. Reason for self-examination. "For each man shall bear his own burden." It was said in the second verse, "Bear ye one another's burdens." Here it is added, with sufficient nearness to be paradoxical, "For each man shall bear his own burden." The first representation was that of standing beside a brother, holding up his burden for him. The representation here is that of each man standing solitarily by himself, bearing his own burden. Strong but not very conclusive assertions are made that this is not the burden of responsibility. The burden to which reference was made at the beginning of the paragraph was the burden of trespass. This we are to share with a brother. Then comes in the thought of such self-deception as prevents us sharing it sympathetically with him. Following upon that is an exhortation to apply proper tests to our conduct as a whole, the result being that, if we have the root of the matter in us, we shall have matter for glorying in regard of ourselves alone, and not in regard of our neighbour. And then the apostle seems to add that we have immediately to stand before God, each with his own burden. It is true that the burden includes the burden of trespasses. And it is true that the fact that we have trespasses should make us sympathetic. But that which weights the burden of our conduct as a whole, and which should make us tender to each other, is that we have immediately to render our account to God. The thought then is—We are to feel for our brother, who in his trespass has a heavy and incommunicable load of responsibility; for in our own trespasses we have a load of responsibility that is heavy and incommunicable too.
(1) It is a burden which cannot be refused or laid down at pleasure. By a mere wish we cannot be irresponsible. We are, in this respect, as clay in the hands of the potter. We have not the choice of our own existence or of our non-existence. All that pertains to our coming into existence, and to our constitution, has been ordained by a sovereign God, who for good and wise ends has made us, and has made us responsible. Now, what does God require of us? It is, in New Testament language, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Apart from the graciousness of this, there is its imperativeness. We have not been consulted as to the making of this command; but it has been imposed in virtue of God's sovereign prerogative to lay commands on us. Is there any question as to the desirability of salvation? It is enough that God wishes to see us saved. Is there any objection to the particular way of being saved? It is enough to say that this is God's way. Having appointed it, there is no question of preference, but simply of obedience. Is there any discretion as to time? ]t is said, "Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation." If God says now, then it is at our peril if we delay for an hour. It is well to have the command laid upon us in all its imperativeness, that we may feel driven, as by weight of authority, to Christ for salvation. There is responsibility connected with our whole life. We have not really the disposal of anything, apart from God's way of disposing of it. God's will must rule our disposal of our time, of our talents, of our property.
(2) It is a burden which we cannot devolve upon another. This is its incommunicableness, which weights it so much. We must act for ourselves in the matter of our salvation. If we wait until others save us we shall never be saved at all. They may give us their sympathy, and by their prayers and appeals influence us; but they cannot act in our soul's stead, and accept of Christ for us. Why have we been so nobly gifted? Is it not that we may act for ourselves, and not need to hold on to another? We are to act out our convictions of what is right, as those that will have to stand before the judgment-seat and give an account of all our acts. And surely we can never see our way as responsible beings to reject salvation. It will be found that all among whom our lot is cast will not be on the side of our best interests. There will be some who would lead us to ruin, as though our souls were only to be played with. But if others choose to go to ruin, that is no reason why we should go with them. And yet it is to be feared that many ruin their souls merely to please or not to displease their friend. But no one can be excused for this. For what is that but thinking more of our friend than el God? It is at our peril if we can be influenced by a fellow-man when he asks us to sin, and not be influenced by God when he asks us to be saved. If those who seek to lead us away could take our responsibility and relieve us from the consequences of our acts, then we might have some inducement to go with them. But that is what none of them can do, be he ever so great. "Wherefore should I fear [i.e. to say, slavishly] when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth [i.e. there is a time when it ceaseth] for ever), that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption." If no one, however great, can do this, then we must act for ourselves and refuse to be influenced for evil. Oh that men, when asked to take a wrong step, would only consider before God how they are alone as responsible beings, standing or falling by themselves ]
(3) It is a burden which we are always free to bear. We mean all who have the use of reason. We can never be forced to sin. If we could be forced, then sin would be no more sin. We sometimes hear of one being a martyr to circumstances. That is not altogether true. What God requires of us varies, indeed, according to circumstances. And there are those who have been placed under great disadvantages compared with others. But, however badly placed we have been, we cannot say that we have been necessitated to refuse salvation. With the offer of Christ in the gospel we have the power of rising above circumstances. Whatever the difficulties in our way, let Christ be glorified in our triumphing over them. At the last day it will be no valid excuse that our difficulties were great. The testing question will be—Could we have surmounted them? did we ever sincerely try to surmount them? If Christ shall ask if we tried his strength, what shall we be able to answer? Let us not lay the blame upon circumstances; let us lay the blame on our own evil hearts.
(4) It is a burden which may be borne lightly or irksomely. One bears the burden of daily toil with alight cheerful heart; another with a heavy heart. So is it with the burden of responsibility. We have reason to thank God that it can be borne lightly. Christ took over our heavy responsibilities. That was, not each bearing his own burden, but One bearing the burden of all. He has taken the weight of guilt out of our burden, and by his grace he can make us move freely in the groove of his purpose. There is resting upon every square inch of our bodies a weight of atmosphere equal to fifteen pounds; and yet it does not oppress us. We move freely under all that weight; we never think of it being there. With as little feeling of oppression do we bear, in Christ, the burden of our responsibilty. But if we stand out of relation to Christ, then it is as though we had two or three atmospheres upon us which would crush us.—R.F.
I. THE MODE OF SUPPORTING THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY, "But let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." It is implied that there is to be, in the Christian Church, an order of men whose function it is to teach in the Word. Where these give their whole time and attention to their work, which, as a general arrangement, is most advisable, it is necessary that provision should be made for their temporal support. The mode of support here sanctioned by the apostle is that the taught in the Word should contribute for the support of their teachers. Receiving spiritual things, they are to show their value of them by communicating of their temporal things. The apostle himself did not always see his way to take advantage of this mode of support. But even when he worked with his own hands to support himself, as he did at Corinth, he let it be known that he was waiving his right of support from the Church he was serving. This voluntary mode of support has a rival in the mode of endowment. Where Christian teachers are the beneficiaries of the state, there are questions raised which need not be entered into here. But there may be endowment not connected with the state. Christian people have sometimes gifted moneys and lands for the support of Christian teachers. And where these benefactions are used to support teachers for those who have not been brought under the influence of Christianity, or in aid of what can be raised by congregations, there is no violation of the spirit of the apostolic ordinance. But the question is whether Christian people should contribute, according to their ability, for the support of their minister. Should a Christian teacher be thrown on the willinghood of his people? or should he have his income secured to him apart from his people? It is said to be lowering to a minister that he should be dependent on his people. So far as worldly status or emolument is concerned that may be set aside. The essential thing is that he should have the opportunity of doing good to men by teaching them in the Word. And, where he has that secured to him, he may be content to be supported in the way in which the Master and apostles were supported before him. But it is said that he is under the temptation to lower his ideal of the Christian ministry in accommodation to the tastes of those upon whom he depends for his support. That may be a reason for his being on his guard; but it is surely not a reason for dispensing with an apostolic ordinance. Is there no danger, on the other hand, of bringing down the ideal mode of supporting the Christian ministry to worldly expediency? The apostolic mode only works well where there are really spiritual men, where real spiritual benefit is done by the teacher, and where the taught are really interested and reasonable. But is it wise that it should be abandoned for a mode which dispenses with spiritual conditions? Is that not coming down to lower principles upon the failure of higher principles? And is it likely that these lower principles will be accompanied with the same spiritual results? The apostolic mode of support has advantages for the minister. He is put more on doing his best. He is under less temptation to consult his case, and under greater necessity to work for his people. He is under less temptation to preach according to his fancy, and under greater necessity to bind himself to the word that is most fitted to interest and to benefit. He is under less temptation to be indifferent to his people, and under greater necessity to live well in their affection. The apostolic mode of support has also advantages for the people. It delivers them from the feeling of dependence on others. It delivers them from spiritual inertia. And, when they have a field for their own exertions and sacrifices in connection with the gospel message, they are more likely to be interested, both in the message and in the messenger.
II. PRINCIPLE INVOLVED. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life." It is remarkable here how the apostle, in support of the particular duty which he has been inculcating, introduces a great and wide principle. There is a similar instance in 2 Corinthians 8:1-24. He is inculcating there the duty of liberality, and he brings in the transcendent consideration of Christ's self-sacrificing love: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich." Here he is inculcating the duty of the taught in the Word doing well by their teachers; and he brings in the great principle of sowing and reaping. The immediate application is this. There are certain conditions upon which God blesses congregations. One of these is that they do well by their ministers. Let them not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let them not think that he will act independently of his own regulation, or reverse it for their particular benefit. Only as they do well by their spiritual teacher shall they prosper. What a powerful enforcement of the duty! But let us look at the principle in its generality, and let us learn, in connection with the consideration of it, lessons suitable to seed-time and harvest.
1. The sower is also the reaper. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall be also reap." The seed he puts into the ground he gets back in the form of fruit. Everywhere is this arrangement carried out. The seed, small and hard, or walled up in stone, or blown about, is, of all objects in nature, the most suggestive. Nature sows innumerable seeds, far up in rocky places, and far away in lonely islands of the sea. Man principally confines himself to the sowing of a few seeds which are necessary for his life and would perish but for his care. A seed is a force, has power stored up in it which does not yet appear. It may be buried in the dry earth for centuries; but, under favouring conditions, it will burst forth, spring up, and come to maturity. And there is what is analogous within the spiritual sphere. All human life is a sowing. Whether we think of it or not, every time that we think and feel and exercise our wills we are sowing. All our acts are forces, which unite and form character. That is the great harvest which even here we are reaping. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let us not think that he will not do what he is constantly teaching us in nature. Let us not think that we can do an action and have done with it when it is done. It is impossible. Even our slight words are forces that are productive. Our listless moods will be found by us again. As certainly as we sow shall there appear a harvest.
2. We reap in the same kind that we sow. "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." We are familiar with this too in nature. If we sow in our flower-plots mignonette seed, there will grow up mignonette plants. If we sow in our fields oats, there will not grow up barley; if we sow barley, there will not grow up wheat. The type of what is sown is impressed on what is produced from it. And the analogy is carried out within the spiritual sphere. We reap in the same kind that we sow. The character of our actions is stamped upon the results that they produce in our nature. We are only liberal as we have acted liberally. We are only devout as we have cultivated devout habits. Wisdom does not spring from the same kind of seed as zeal; nor gentleness from the same kind of seed as courage. Whatever fruit we would have, we must sow in that kind. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let us not think that he will disregard his own appointment—like seed, like harvest. Let us not think that we can sow niggardliness and reap fatness; that we can sow dissipation and reap steadfastness. The kind that we sow in our actions, and none other, determines what we reap.
3. As we sow to the flesh or to the Spirit, what we reap is corruptible or incorruptible. There are many kinds of seeds in nature; but there is one essential distinction between them. There are seeds of plants which are vile and noxious, and which we seek only to extirpate. And there are seeds of plants which are useful or beautiful, and which we seek to cultivate. Sowing to the flesh is doing what is right in our own eyes, acting without regard to the will of God. It is like sowing the seeds of weeds in the soil of our hearts. Sowing to the Spirit is what is called, in the Old Testament, sowing in righteousness, doing what is right before God. It is like sowing the seeds of useful grains, or of beautiful flowers, in the soil of our hearts. It is said, sowing "to our own flesh," but simply "sowing to the Spirit," showing that the point of the distinction is taking the rule of our actions from self or from God. The Divine ordering is that, sowing to the flesh, we shall of the flesh reap corruption. And we are sufficiently taught what corruption is. There is an offensiveness connected with wet, decayed vegetable matter. There is a greater offensiveness connected with putrid animal matter. And, as the best things corrupted are the worst, there is nothing so offensive, within the material sphere, as the human body in a state of corruption. And that, again, is but a suggestion of what the soul is in a state of corruption. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let us not think that we can break God's laws with impunity. Let us not think that we can sin, and have the freshness and beauty of holiness. It is impossible. Sin is working its work of deterioration even here. It is bringing in the elements of death into our nature. It is as though mortification in all its loathsomeness were proceeding in our various powers. And it is the most solemn fact of existence that, if we die in sin, then, as certainly as there is righteousness in the character of God, will retribution follow us into the next world. On the other hand, the Divine ordering is that, sowing to the Spirit, we shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. There is nothing within the material sphere which can fitly set forth what this life is. As spirit is finer than matter, so is spiritual life finer than the most lovely flower, the most beautiful human bodily form. It has especially the element of imperishableness, eternity. Flowers quickly fade; the most beautiful face loses its freshness. But the line that is begun in God and carried on in God shall be eternal as God himself. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. It is only by sowing to the Spirit that we can get beautiful and imperishable elements into our line. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honourable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." That is the order of the Divine government which we must observe if we would be beautified with the Divine beauty and immortalized with the Divine immortality. Seeing, then, that God cannot deny himself, must honour his own arrangement, let us learn the supreme importance of sowing to the Spirit. There is nothing in this principle, rightly considered, which militates against the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. For the great Substitute of mankind came under the broken Law, which had its full course in him. He reaped, in terrible experience of forsakenness what we had sowed in our sins. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." And, therefore, it is that we can reap a rich harvest of forgiveness. But it needs to be borne in mind, as a complementary truth, that, after we are forgiven, we have still to contend against depraved tendency, and especially against the results of our previous sinful life. And it is also to be borne in mind that we can only have the harvest of life eternal in so far as we have thought out the Divine thoughts and carried out the Divine will. Let us not be deceived. God is not mocked. In no other way can it be secured by us.
III. ENCOURAGEMENT AGAINST WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING. "And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." The apostle has been exhorting to do well by Christian teachers; he now proceeds to exhort to well-doing in general, i.e. to all kinds of doing well to the bodies and souls of men. And let it be understood, that nothing is worthy of the name of well-doing which is not done from a right motive. It must be, not for self-glorification, but for the glory of God.
1. Causes of weariness.
(1) There are discouragements connected with the nature of well-doing. It is under a high impulse that we begin the life of well-doing. It is the kind of life that is furthest removed from selfishness. It requires a large infusion of the spirit in which Christ regarded men. But we have still to do with the matter-of-fact world. We are not placed above the ordinary cares and difficulties of life These may increase with us and may act upon us so as to tend to weariness in well-doing. We have to give out largely too of our best strength in well-doing. To be burdened with the souls of men is exhausting beyond anything else. And the more intensely we care for souls the more are we laid open to a feeling of weariness.
(2) There are discouragements connected with the associations of well-doing. We may not like the scenes of discomfort, squalor, and vice into which well-doing brings us. We may feel the want of suitable appliances for engaging in well-doing. We may feel the want of hearty co-operation. Some to whom we had reason to look may fail us, having become cold in the work. Of our fellow-workers in the same society some may be more intent on getting their own way than on the advancement of the common cause, if they do not even resort to slander and obstruction. And all these things are causes of weariness.
(3) There are especially discouragements connected with the results of well-doing. In other work we can, to a large extent, walk by sight. We feel the encouraging influence of results. There is something to show for what our hands have done every day. But in well-doing there is little to show in the shape of results. There is something to be seen, indeed, if we feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And there are also results that can be tested, if we engage in communicating knowledge to the young and the ignorant. But if we seek to influence men's hearts through gospel truth we may have to say, "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" We may labour on, and some may appear further removed from good than they were. Some who appeared to be established may show deterioration or may fall greviously, to our great amazement and sorrow. Or, if we meet with outward tokens of success, in the very moment of success it may be felt to be unsatisfying. It may be not all real, when tested even by time. And we may afterwards be disappointed in some upon whom we reckoned as savingly influenced. And there arc wearying influences that come in from a wider range. It may seem as if there were but poor results from the money and labour spent on missions. It may seem as if little inroads were made upon the domain of evil. It may seem as if the Church were losing its wonted fire, were feeling the chilling influence of the world. It may seem as if iniquity were abounding, and, because iniquity abounds, our love, and that of many others, is apt to wax cold.
2. Encouragement against weariness. We cannot remove the causes of weariness in well-doing. We cannot escape the temptation to be weary. What we have to do is to refuse to yield to the temptation. "Let us not be weary"—that is the word which the apostle sends forth to all who are inclined to be weary in well-doing. Let us learn a lesson from what we see going on in nature. The sower does not see his harvest the day he sows his seed. He has to begin by putting his seed out of sight, and it is a time before the plant appears above ground. And then he has to wait until nature slowly brings it forward to maturity. But if, in the face of what he does not yet see, he faint not as under the burning heat of the sun, then he shall assuredly one day be privileged to bring in the ripe grain into the stackyard. For God has appointed a season for this. So let us learn, in the face of all discouragements connected with well-doing, especially in the face of what we do not yet see of results, that, if we faint not, if we lose not faith in God, in the mighty influences of the Divine Spirit, in the converting efficacy of the Divine message, in the binding nature of the Divine command, and if we lose not hope for man,—then in due season we shall assuredly reap. We shall reap in our own souls, in the blessing God shall not delay to send on us for engaging, unweariedly, in well-doing. And, what is more to the purpose of well-doing, we shall reap in others, in the blessing which God may not immediately or within our observation, but shall in due season, send upon them as the result of tearful prayers and labours which he never forgets. Let us, then, cast our bread, though it may be as upon the waters, and we shall find it, though it may be after many days. God has his own time and way of bringing the seed forward, and it may be long after we are dead and gone that the fruit shall be gathered in.
IV. OPPORTUNITY OF WELL-DOING. "So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of faith." These three things constitute opportunity, viz. time, ability, and objects of well-doing.
1. There is the limit of time. Spring is the season for sowing the seed. If it is not improved, there will be nothing to gather at harvest-time. So the present life is the season for well-doing. It does not appear that in the next world we shall be employed in reclaiming sinners. Let us, then, improve the time that God has given us for doing good, all the more because of the uncertainty of its being continued to us. In the morning let us sow our seed, in the evening let us not withhold our hand. Let us serve well our day and generation.
2. There is the limit of ability. God has given us all the means of doing good with our powers, and money. Up to that point we have obligation. Let us, then, faithfully discharge our obligation as before God. Let us know how to use our powers, not selfishly, but usefully, beneficently. Let us learn the secret of making ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.
3. The objects of well-doing. These are in a manner unlimited. The apostle says, "all men." That is to say, that, if we had time and ability, it would literally be our duty to work that which is good to all men. As it is, wherever there is a human being, he has a claim upon us on the ground of his humanity and on the ground of his being the object of God's love and of Christ's redemption. But there is a defining, limiting of the order in which we are to proceed with those whom we seek to bless. As within the natural sphere our own household have the first claim on us, so within the Christian sphere it is those who are of the household of faith. It is an additional and cogent reason for the bestowment of a charity that the objects of it have the same faith and sympathies and look forward to the same home with ourselves. Within the Christian household, too, our own family and friends, our own neighbours, our own countrymen, have a prior claim on our interest. But let us remember that, if charity begins at home, it does not end there. We must go out in the spirit of this exhortation in our sympathies and charities and labours to all the ignorant, and to them that are out of the way. "I exhort therefore that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth."—R.F.
I. HIS HANDWRITING. "See with how large letters I have written unto you with mine own hand." He seems to intimate that not merely the following words, but, against his usual custom, the whole Epistle, was in his own handwriting. This was to be interpreted as a manifestation of his interest in them in connection with the importance of the occasion. He also intimates that he used large characters. It cannot be imagined that his intention in doing so, and in calling attention to it, was to emphasize his instructions. It was rather to be interpreted as an appeal to them in connection with his defective vision which necessitated the use of large characters.
II. THE SPIRIT OF THE JUDAIZING TEACHERS.
1. They desired to appear well for their own interest. "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh they compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ." He does not mention the Judaizing teachers by name, but he graphically describes them. They did not care for reality; what they cared for was to make a fair show. And, though it was to make a fair show in religion, that did not remove it from the sphere of the flesh. It was still self that was the actuating principle. If they had presented the cross of Christ in its simplicity, as the apostle seems to imply they were free in their conscience to have done, they would have offended their unbelieving countrymen, and would have been subjected to persecution from them. The carnal, self-interested way in which they got over the offence of the cross was to insist on the circumcision of the Gentile converts.
2. Their false glorying. "For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the Law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh." They were the party of the circumcision, not merely because they were circumcised themselves, but because they made circumcision a prominent article in their teaching. They had not the zeal that might have been expected of them for the Law; for they were faulty in their own keeping of it, feeling it to be burdensome to their flesh. They displayed their zeal in proselytizing. They hoped to hold themselves up to the admiration of their countrymen in the numbers, not that had undergone a saving change, but that, through their influence, had received the mark of circumcision in their flesh.
III. HIS SPIRIT AS CONTRASTED WITH THAT OF THE JUDAIZERS.
1. His glorying. "But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
(1) He gloried in the cross. By the cross we are to understand the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ. By glorying in the cross we are to understand that he not only trusted in it for his own salvation, and admired it himself, but that he held it up for the trust and admiration of others. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine love. It was God not sparing his Son, but delivering him up for the salvation of men. If love is to be measured by sacrifice, then it was a love that made infinite sacrifice. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine righteousness. In default of man being able to make satisfaction for his sin unless in his own destruction, it was God coming forward in Christ and making satisfaction for sin by paying its utmost penalty. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine power. It was God in Christ conquering the kingdom of Satan, showing himself stronger than the evil of man's heart. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine wisdom. It was God showing how he could be just, and yet the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; showing how he could attract the sinner to himself, and yet condemn his sin.
(2) He gloried especially in the cross because of its effecting changed relations to the world. By the world we are to understand the sphere in which the principles of the flesh find their manifestation. The cross crucified the world to him. He condemned it and tore himself from it because of its antagonism to God. He was independent of its favours and pleasures, for he had better within himself, in the love and approval of God, and in all the joys of sonship. The cross crucified him to the world. It condemned him in turn, and stood aloof from him as a lost man, and only thought of him to hate him and persecute him. In this cross, then, with all that it entailed, he gloried, and in this alone. Far be it from him to hold up anything else for the trust and admiration of men.
2. His regard for reality. "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." To him it was of no importance that men should be outwardly marked. What was of importance was that they should be inwardly changed, Numbers he would have rejoiced in if they represented saved men.
IV. AS HIS SPIRIT WAS SO HE BLESSED. "And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." He invokes blessing on all who would walk by the rule laid down, i.e. who would glory only in the cross of Christ, and would seek reality and not appearances. He invokes blessing on them in the usual form, only putting peace before mercy. All such, and not those whom the Judaizers blessed, were to be regarded as the Israel of God.
V. His CLAIM TO BE UNMOLESTED. "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus." A general who has seen long service and has received many scars may reasonably claim to be relieved from future service. That was not Paul's claim. Hard service had a singular charm for him. But he thought that he had received scars enough to place his relationship to Christ as his servant and apostle henceforth beyond all doubt. The slave had branded on his body the name of the Master to whom he belonged. So in his past hardships he had as it were the name of Jesus branded on him. Henceforth, whatever men might do to him, let them not molest him by raising doubt as to the Master to whom he belonged.
VI. HIS SPECIAL AND FINAL BLESSING FOR THE GALATIANS. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen" He blesses them from the centre of their being. He was so charged with indignation when he commenced the Epistle that he was long before he could address them as brethren. Now he is so charged with affection that, putting" brethren" into an unusual position, he makes it the last word that shall linger in their memory when they have completed the reading of the Epistle.
We have no evidence of the immediate effect which this Epistle had upon the Galatians. It is painful to read of heresies which, at a subsequent period, were rife among them. It is, however, pleasing to know that in the Diocletian persecution in the beginning of the fourth century, and in the "attempt to galvanize the expiring form of heathen devotion in Galatia," by Julian the apostate, there were not s few Galatian martyrs. It cannot be said that there is at the present day within the district any representation of Pauline Christianity. The Christian Church has yet to show its indebtedness for this Epistle by going forth in the spirit of the great preacher of the cross to reconquer Galatian soil for Christ.—R.F.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
Restoring the erring.
In all the writings of St. Paul there is no more Christ-like utterance than this. It breathes the very spirit of him who came to seek and to save the lost. It seems to be addressed in particular to the more spiritual members of the Galatian Churches—to those who had not been carried away in the tide of fashionable Judaizing. There was a danger lest the severe rebuke administered by the apostle to their erroneous brethren should provoke a vain and censorious spirit in these men. St. Paul warns them of that danger (Galatians 5:26), and points out the right course that is open to them. Instead of judging they were to help to restore the fallen in all gentleness and humility.
I. THE DUTY OF RESTORING THE ERRING. Too often they are harshly judged, condemned, despised, crushed, so that if they are strong they are confirmed in their errors by pride and motives of sheer self-defence, and if they are weak they become reckless and despairing and a ready prey for greater evils. The censorious will have to answer for the terrible responsibility of confirming guilt and checking repentance. In no case is it ours to judge. But to brand and ostracize the guilty is to incur the heavy guilt of those who make others to sin. How different would the history of the Church have been if, instead of the controversy which aims only at silencing opponents, there had been the counsel that seeks at restoring brethren! But it is important to see that there should be no aim short of restoring the erring. That is a false charity which ignores sins in others. They must be faithfully pointed out and earnestly opposed. The great end must not be mere punishment nor easy indifference, but restoration.
II. THE PERSONS CHARGED WITH THIS DUTY. The spiritual. It requires such, for it is a delicate duty. We are not all fit for it. Spirituality should produce charity. The spiritual are not to withdraw from their weaker brethren in Pharisaic pride. Such pride, indeed, is a proof of utter unspirituality. No nobler mission can be open to the purest souls than that of restoring the erring. It was Christ's great work, and he does not liberate his people from the duty of taking their share in it. The more a man has of the spirit of Christ the better will he be able to succeed in this beautiful labour of love.
III. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE DUTY IS TO BE CARRIED OUT.
1. Charity. Consider that the unfortunate man has been "overtaken" in a trespass. Make due allowance for the peculiar form of the temptation under which he fell and for the surprise with which it came upon him,
2. Meekness. The duty is not to scold, but to heal. The healer of souls must show the utmost possible gentleness, consideration for wounded pride, and respect for natural reserve, and should do all he can not to humiliate the offender more than is necessary, nor to injure his self-respect.
3. Humility. "Looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." It is not necessary to appear immaculate in order to restore another. The pride of assumed superiority will be the worst possible hindrance in such a work. It is well to remember that, if we had met the same temptation, we might have had even a more grievous fall. And some day our time may come, and then the present offender may be our restorer. Let the work be done, then, as by a brother to a brother.—W.F.A.
The law of Christ.
The Galatians have been hankering after the Law of Judaism, as though some counsels of perfection could be found therein for adding higher virtue to the graces of Christianity. "If you want a law," says St. Paul, "take this rule of mutual sympathy—bear ye one another's burdens." Christ has his law, then, after all. It is not a ceremonial observance, but it is high enough for the ambition of the noblest self-sacrifice.
I. CHRIST EXPECTS US TO TAKE DEEP INTEREST IN ONE ANOTHER. Christianity is unselfish. To think that all we have to do is to save our own souls is to misunderstand the religion of Christ completely. He who would thus save his soul will lose it. The gospel is a gospel to us just because it calls us out of ourselves and leads us to deny ourselves and practise active charity.
II. OUR SPECIAL INTEREST SHOULD BE DRAWN TOWARDS THE TROUBLES OF OTHERS. The burdens are to be our concern. How large a share of life they cover!
1. Burdens of sin. These seem to be uppermost in the mind of St. Paul (verse 1). As Christ bore our sin, we are to bear our neighbour's; i.e. make it our trouble and anxiety, and a thing we labour at removing.
2. Burdens of sorrow. The trouble of our brother will be ours if we are members one of another.
3. Burdens of care. Fear and anxiety are magnified inloneliness. We can see the forlorn suffer from being quite desolate.
4. Burdens of doubt. Do not brand the doubter as a heretic. Enter into his difficulties. Discuss them frankly as with your brother.
III. IT IS OUR DUTY TO BEAR THESE BURDENS. The scribes bound heavy burdens grievous to be borne on the shoulders of their victims, and would not so much as touch them with their little fingers. The example of these men has been too often followed by the teachers of the Church. Yet God knows the burdens of life are heavy enough without our adding to them. Our part is to lighten them. This is a serious, practical work, and not a matter of humanitarian sentiment. We must take the burdens on ourselves till we feel the weight of them.
1. By sympathy. Real sympathy, and not mocking pity, makes another's trouble one's own. It takes the heaviest weight from the load—the dull, crushing sense of loneliness. The burden is lightened by being shared.
2. By active relief. When once we feel the burden we shall wish to remove it. Bearing it, we shall do all in our power to bear it away. Thus Christian sympathy produces active philanthropy.
IV. TO BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS IS TO FULFIL THE LAW OF CHRIST. It is required by Christ. We are disobedient to him if we neglect the duty. And to fulfil it is to satisfy Christ. In face of this plain duty there is an unreality amounting almost to hypocrisy in the effort to live a holy life by practising artificial, ascetic self-denial, as if enough could not be found in the common walks of life and in ways of plain usefulness. How absurd to wear a hair shirt and lash one's self with scourges instead of taking the self-denial in the less romantic but more Christ-like way of helping the sick and ignorant and fallen!
"The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask—
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God?"
The self-deception of self-conceit.
A truism, yet such that, while everybody is ready to apply it to his neighbour, few are wise enough to take it home to themselves. By the very nature of the case it is always ignored where it fits most aptly. Hence the need of insisting upon it.
I. THERE ARE STRONG INDUCEMENTS FOR FORMING AN UNDULY FAVOURABLE OPINION OF ONE'S SELF. Self-knowledge is a difficult acquisition. We cannot get the right perspective. The effort of turning the mind in upon itself is arduous. Then we are inclined to take imagination and desire for direct perception, i.e. to think we possess qualities which we only picture in thought; or to measure our faculties by our inclinations, to suppose that the wish to do certain things carries with it the power. E.g. an enthusiast for the violin is likely to suppose he can handle the instrument musically before other people are of that opinion. The very habit of thinking about ourselves causes a growing sense of self-importance. Moreover, by an unconscious selection we are led to dwell on the favourable features of our own characters, and leave out of account the unfavourable.
II. A HIGH OPINION OF ONE'S SELF IS COMMONLY FOUND TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW CONDITION OF REAL WORTH. Not invariably, for we sometimes find men of high endowments painfully self-assertive, either because they know that their merits have not been duly recognized, or because their vanity has been excited by the applause of their friends. Such cases reveal a weakness, and strike us as peculiarly unfortunate, for the men of worth would be wiser to wait for the acknowledgment which their merits by themselves will ultimately command had they but patience enough, or at the worst should be above caring overmuch for any such acknowledgment. Still, the merit may be real. In most cases, however, it is those who are least who boast the loudest. The man of little knowledge thinks he knows everything; wide knowledge reveals the awful vastness of the unknown, and impresses profound humility. So the holiest man is most conscious of his own sinfulness. At best, too, what right have we to think much of ourselves when all we have comes from God-our natural abilities as gifts of Providence, our spiritual attainments as graces of the Spirit?
III. AN UNDUE OPINION OF ONE'S SELF IS NOTHING BUT SELF-DECEPTION. It cannot long impose upon others. The world is not inclined to attach much weight to a man's own evidence in favour of himself. Such self-deception is unfortunate,
(1) because it will put us in a false position, incline us to make wrong claims, and to attempt the unattainable, and so result in disastrous failure;
(2) because it precludes the endeavour to improve ourselves;
(3) because it destroys the Christ-like grace of humility;
(4) because it provokes the ridicule, scorn, or even enmity of others.—W.F.A.
Galatians 6:7, Galatians 6:8
Sowing and reaping.
The Galatians appear to have been niggardly in their contributions for the support of their Christian teachers (verse 6). St. Paul warns them that such conduct will tell against themselves (see Proverbs 11:24). The principle on which he bases his admonition is one of deep significance and wide application. No doubt the apostle wished it to be impressed upon his readers in all its bearings as well as in relation to the particular case that led him to mention it.
I. IT IS A LAW OF NATURE THAT THE REAPING SHALL CORRESPOND TO THE SOWING.
1. This is part of the general law that, other things being equal, the same cause always produces the same effect. There is no known exception to the law of causation; there is no possible evasion of it. We see it plainly working in human affairs. The eternal constancy of nature assures us that the consequences of which certain conduct is known to be the cause will undoubtedly follow.
2. The special law of sowing and reaping is that the product of the harvest will be the same in kind as the seed sown. Tares will never produce wheat, nor wheat tares. But each seed reproduces its own kind. This is seen in human affairs. Commercial industry 'tends to commercial wealth, intellectual study to a state of intellectual culture, etc. It is vain to think that money will buy refinement or that learning is the road to wealth. Each pursuit has its own consequences in accordance with its own nature.
II. THIS LAW APPLIES TO SPIRITUAL SOWING AND REAPING.
1. Here the future depends on the past and present by a certain law of causation. No words could more plainly assert that our conduct is shaping our own fate; and these are not the words of St. James, but of St. Paul! and they occur, of all places, in the Epistle to the Galatians, where the doctrine of justification by faith is most vehemently asserted! Moreover, they are not addressed to Jews still under the Law, nor to heathen who have not yet availed themselves of the privileges of the gospel, but to Christians who have come into the justification by faith, as it is to Christians that St. Paul says elsewhere, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God" (Romans 14:10). We are here reminded that the future consequences of conduct are natural, not adventitious—that they are caused by what we are and do, that they flow of their own accord from our lives, and are not assigned from without by any arbitrary decree. We simply reap what our own sowing has produced for us.
2. In spiritual things there is a correspondence between what is sown and what is reaped.
(1) Sowing to the flesh produces its own natural harvest—corruption. The mere animal life, the life of worldly interests, the life of the lower self, is itself a life of corruptible things. Its soil and nourishment are earthly and cannot outlast death. When the grave opens all is lost. Even before death thieves steal, and moth and rust eat into the treasures. The soul itself, too, is corrupted by such a life. Its faculties are dissipated and decay away. It descends to the evil state of moral rottenness and death.
(2) Sowing to the Spirit produces its own harvest of eternal life. Spiritual things are eternal things. Treasures in heaven are beyond destroying influences. In proportion as the spiritual within us is cultivated we have what will outlast death and what no grave will ever claim. Already we have an eternal life in living in the things that are spiritual and therefore eternal. Money goes, but faith remains; the pleasures of the senses pall upon us, but the peace of God never fails; self-seeking leads to dissatisfaction, the love of God sustains us with undying interests.
III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH A LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING IS A WANNING AGAINST INSINCERITY. It is vain to shut our eyes to it. Nature is pitilessly inexorable, and here we are considering a law of nature which is as rigid as the law of gravitation. Deception may avail with men, but here we have God's action, and no subterfuge can escape his detection. There is a sort of irony on our petty schemes and contrivances in the calm, sure way in which the laws of the universe work out their issues, totally regardless of what we may imagine or pretend. Yet we are in danger of self-deception.
1. The harvest is delayed. The result is not the less certain, however, on that account. Seeds found buried with Egyptian mummies thousands of years ago when sown now bear fruit after their kind, with as little deviation as if they had been produced last harvest.
2. We expect more consequences than the law of sowing and reaping justifies. Thus we are surprised that bad men should be prosperous in worldly matters and good men unfortunate. But each reaps as he sows. fie who sows to the world reaps worldly gain, with its ultimate corruption. He who sows only to the Spirit has no right to expect more than spiritual returns. His harvest will be eternal life, not money and pleasure. He gets just what he sows, only with increase. Finally, how can we reconcile this principle with the gospel of Christ and the doctrine of grace? Simply by seeing that to have a true submissive and obedient faith in Christ is to sow to the Spirit.—W.F.A.
Weariness in well-doing.
I. THE CONDITION OF WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.
1. It is a feeling, not at present a change of action. The well-doing is continued in spite of weariness. Our moods vary, and we can scarcely be held to be responsible for them. The essential thing is that we do not cease working.
2. It is very different from being weary of well-doing. We may grow weary in our work and yet be most anxious for the success of it. Such weariness is a common condition. How often is the flesh weak while the spirit is willing! How often is the spirit, too, wearily cleaving to the dust, and pining for a Divine inspiration, like the hart thirsting and panting for the water-brooks!
II. THE EVIL OF THIS CONDITION.
1. It is distressing. The task over which we sing in the freshness of the morning becomes a burden to groan under when the evening finds us jaded and worn.
2. It is likely to make our work defective. We cannot row fast when the stream turns contrary to us, nor work effectively against the grain.
3. It may lead to the abandonment of our mission. Weariness may end in despair. If we have no joy in our work we shall be tempted to negligence.
III. THE CAUSES OF THIS CONDITION.
1. In ourselves.
(1) Want of rest. "Come ye aside and rest awhile," said Christ to his disciples in the midst of their busiest labours.
(2) Want of nourishment. We grow weary if we work long without food. There is a danger lest the active servant of Christ should neglect his own private prayer and meditation and the quiet inward spiritual sustenance that is so necessary to give vigour and freshness to the external service.
2. Causes in our work.
(1) Monotony and drudgery. How much of our work has no glow of romance and no inspiration of heroism about it! The soldier grows tired of camp service, though he would put forth tenfold exertions in the excitement of battle without feeling weary.
(2) Lack of results. It often looks as though we were labouring in vain. Now, futile toil is of all toil the most wearying.
IV. THE REMEDY FOR THIS WEARINESS.
1. If it comes from our own habits anal conditions, see that we have the rest and nourishment that our souls need. We must be more with God in prayer. Natural bodily rest may be needed too. A good holiday may be the best cure for a weariness that sadly troubles the soul of a conscientious toiler.
2. If the weariness comes from our work,
(1) remember that Christ is watching us, so that the commonest drudgery done for his sake becomes a noble service and will receive as warm an approval as the most brilliant achievement—nay, a more kindly recognition, seeing that it was more trying to discharge the lowly duty with full fidelity; and
(2) remember that the harvest, though delayed, will surely be reaped in due time,—then "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy."—W.F.A.
The cross of Christ.
I. THE CROSS AS AN OBJECT OF GLORYING.
1. St. Paul can glory in nothing else. Yet he had whereof to glory. His birth, his education, and his religious devotions had been sources of pride to him. His Christian attainments, his apostolic authority, his missionary triumphs, and his brave endurance of persecutions, might be taken as reasons for self-glorification. But he rejects the whole. Plainly no Christian inferior to St. Paul can have anything in himself to be proud of.
2. The glorying only begins in looking away from self to Christ. Men talk of glorying in their crosses. But St. Paul boasted, not in his own cross, but only in the cross of Christ. He made nothing of his sufferings for Christ; all his interest was absorbed in Christ's sufferings for him. All the brightness of Christian experience centres in Christ.
3. The grand source of glorying is the cross of Christ. The cross was the symbol of shame; it has become the token of what we most reverently adore. So complete is the transformation of ideas that we can with difficulty understand the paradox as it would strike the contemporaries of St. Paul when he spoke of glorying in the cross. It is as though we spoke of priding ourselves on the gallows. This cross, this instrument of shameful death has become the emblem of Christianity. Gleaming in gold on the spires and domes of our cathedrals, it typifies the most vital truth of Christianity. The glory of the cross is not a merely mystical sentiment. It springs from evident facts:
(1) the fidelity of Christ as the good Shepherd, who would not forsake the flock and flee before the wolf;
(2) the patience, gentleness, and forgiving spirit of Christ on the cross; but
(3) chiefly the love of Christ in suffering shame and anguish and death for us. There are some who would dispense with the doctrine of the cross; but a crossless Christianity will be a mutilated, impotent gospel, robbed of all efficacy, shorn of all glory.
II. THE CROSS AS AN INSTRUMENT OF DEATH. The cross does not change its nature by winning its glory. Still, it is a cross—tool of pain and death. It is no less than this to the Christian as it was no less to Christ. For Christianity is not a calm acceptance of what Christ has done in our stead; it is union with Christ, first in his death and then in his victory.
1. The cross means the death of the world to us. Before that glory of Divine love in human passion all lesser lights fade and perish. As we look upon the cross the world loses its hold upon us. In the vision of truth and purity and love even to death, the threats of the world's hurts lose their terror and the fascinations of its pleasures their charm.
2. The cross means our death to the world. Joined with Christ by faith, we have the old self killed out of us. Hitherto the power of the lower world has dragged us down to sin and trouble. But in proportion as we are united to the Crucified we cease to have the feelings and interests which chain us to the earthly. St. Paul describes a magnificent ideal. No man on earth has fully realized it. It must be the aim of the Christian more and more to be one with Christ, that the cross may pass more deeply into his soul till all else melts and fades out of experience.
These two aspects of the cross—its death-power in us, its glory in Christ—are directly related. For it is only after it has been the instrument of death to us that we can rise in the new life and see it as the one absorbing object of glory.—W.F.A.
"A new creature."
I. EXTERNAL RELIGION COUNTS FOR NOTHING. "For neither is circumcision anything." Religion is wholly in the soul.
1. No rite has any value in itself. Nothing done to the body is of any religious account whatever. Neither is anything done by the body. A rite may be a symbol, and as such a means of grace; but St. Paul plainly teaches that it has no magical efficacy.
2. Ecclesiastical position is in itself of no importance. Circumcision was the seal of membership in the Jewish Church. Yet it was nothing. We may be members of the strictest sect, or we may hold high rank in the most august Church. But before God this is just nothing.
3. Doctrinal orthodoxy counts for nothing. Not that truth is unimportant. But the mere intellectual grasp of theological ideas leaves us where it finds us; and therefore if we go no further it is of no consequence whether those ideas are true or false. Conversely, to dispense with rites, to be in no Church, or to be unorthodox, is no condemnation. Neither, however, is it a merit, as some extravagant admirers of the idea of heresy strangely assert. If circumcision is not anything, neither is uncircumcision.
II. THE ONE ESSENTIAL IS TO BECOME A NEW CREATURE. This great truth implies two others.
1. In religious matters the important question is as to what we are. It matters not what is done to us or what we hold. All of importance is in our own life and character. If we are not true and pure and self-sacrificing, if we have not the Spirit of Christ, all our orthodoxy, Church status, and ritual observances are an empty mockery. If we are thus Christ-like, any further question is irrelevant. The sole essential is then safe.
2. In our sinful condition we are not like Christ, but are so radically unlike him as to need a complete, new creation before we can be in a right condition. The requisite change is so thorough that no ordinary religious influences will accomplish it. Circumcision is nothing, because what we want is nothing less than the crucifixion and death of the whole old life and the creation of an entirely new life. When this change has been accomplished, however, it is the evidence of its own sufficiency. It is impertinent to raise little questions of rites, etc., when the new man bears in each lineament of his countenance, in the very tone of his conversation, and in the bearing of his whole life, the princely character of a son of God.
III. THE CHRISTIAN IS A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST. What circumcision symbolizes faith effects (Galatians 5:6). "By their fruits ye shall know them." The gospel of faith proves its claims by the results that it works. Nothing else can make men new creatures. The gospel can do this. For those, then, who are still in the old life of sin here is a warning and an encouragement.
1. A warning. Renewal is necessary.
2. An encouragement. Renewal is possible.
No painful rites have to be observed, no difficult doctrines comprehended, no strict Church entered. All that is wanted is union with Christ in faith. The way is simple and clear; it is not easy and painless, for it is by being crucified with Christ. But it issues in a glorious new life.—W.F.A.
"The Israel of God."
To one who enters into the ideas taught by St. Paul, the anxiety of some persons in the present day to discover that the English are descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel is altogether mistaken. Even if they could prove their very improbable theory, it would have nothing but an ethnological, or at best a sentimental, interest. Religiously it is not of the slightest importance. All Christians, whatever their birth and descent, are the true Israel of God. Look at some of the marks of Israel upon the Christian.
I. ABRAHAM'S SEED. The Jew traced his pedigree back to Abraham. He was Abraham's seed. Therefore he accounted himself the heir of the promises made to Abraham. The Christian possesses Abraham's faith. By means of this he becomes Abraham's seed (Galatians 3:29), while the Jew who lacks faith is disowned.
II. POSSESSING THE ORACLES OF GOD. St. Paul reckons as the first advantage of the Jews "that they were entrusted with the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). The Hebrew race had the unspeakable privilege of receiving through their inspired teachers the highest revelation of God vouchsafed to the world for many ages. But there came a later revelation outshining this old revelation in clearness and glory. The Jew rejected this. The Christian accepted it. The Christian holds the New Testament, and he has Christ, God's brightest manifestation of himself. Thus he steps into the position held by ancient Israel.
III. SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. The Jew was called out from the world to live apart as a lonely race with a peculiar destiny of its own. Christians are thus called out of life into the world. They are made to live as pilgrims and strangers, as sojourners with God.
IV. A MISSION TO THE WOULD. Israel did not always understand her mission, and often grossly neglected it in proud exclusiveness. Yet many of the prophets saw clearly that the chosen people were called from among the nations that they might be trained to give to the world the highest blessings. They did this, but only through giving it Christianity. Now, Christians are an elect people—elect to be missionaries and apostles to the people that sit in darkness.
V. A SUTURE HERITAGE. The Hebrew in the wilderness looked for a promised had. Abraham and the patriarchs had hoped for "a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." The perfect fulfilment of these hopes was not given to the Jew on earth. It is for the Christian hereafter; for "there remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9).—W.F.A.
I. THE APOSTLE IS THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. The stigmata are the brands, the name of the master burnt on the slave. The most honoured of the apostles regards himself as the branded servant of Christ. To no higher honour can any Christian aspire. Christianity is living, not for self, but for Christ. We must all understand that Christ stands to us in the relation of a Master. Our part is to submit to his will. The supreme and peculiar Christian duty is obedience to Christ (John 14:21).
II. THE TRUE SERVANT OF CHRIST BEARS THE HARK OF HIS MASTER. St. Paul bore on his body the scars of the sufferings he had endured in the service of Christ. These plainly marked him as Christ's. Christians must all bear indications of Christ on their lives. It may be granted that St. Francis was none the better for having the wound-marks as of the nails of the cross in his hands and feet. Yet this strange condition was the last proof of his passionate identification of himself with Christ in thought and will and affection. So the Christian must ever have the Name of Jesus upon him in the Christ-likeness of his life. It is useless to have it merely on the tongue; it must be on the body, i.e. on the life.
III. THE MARKS OF CHRIST COME THROUGH SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. Thus St. Paul received his. They were brands burnt in by fiery trials. Suffering for Christ proves our fidelity to him and brings out our Christ-likeness of character. They who are like the rocky soil and receive the Word with joy, but cannot withstand persecution, may sing of the sweetness of the Name of Jesus in sentimental hymns; but they have no such Name branded on their persons. After all their enthusiasm has evaporated, we see nothing but self left. The Christian must deny himself for Christ. His life may not be so hard as St. Paul's. Rarely has such hardship been known as the great apostle endured; rarely have the brands been burnt so deep with such cruel fires. Yet all must have an experience that is similar in kind, though perhaps far less in degree. The sufferer, however, may console himself with the thought that the more fiery the trial he endures for Christ becomes, the deeper will be the sacred marks of the Name of Jesus upon him. For nothing makes us so Christ-like and nothing binds us so near to Christ as patient suffering and toil for his sake. This suggests the fear that it is no easy thing to be a Christian. Certainly to be a true Christian such as St. Paul was is not easy; it is the depth of self-renunciation and the height of arduous fidelity. Count the cost, then. Look at the irons ready to brand the Name of Jesus before consenting to become his servant. But look also on the other side, at what he suffered for us and at the glory of his service.
IV. THE BRANDS OF SERVICE SHOULD BE THE SECURITY OF THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. With such marks upon him, how dare any man trouble the apostle by questioning his authority? Suffering for Christ should be a confirmation of our faith to others. It should also be a security against the danger of unfaithfulness. How can he who bears the Name of Jesus thus conspicuously burnt in by hard trial and long service forsake his Master? Such brands should be eternal.—W.F.A.